How to Choose the Right Orthodontist: A Patient’s Guide

We are excited that you’ve decided to spend some time creating a beautiful smile! Your kids are finished with their orthodontic work, and now it’s your turn. Or maybe your child is just old enough to begin orthodontist visits. No matter who needs the treatment, it’s an important decision. 

That is why it is critical to take your time choosing a good orthodontist. After all, you want the best treatment at the price that fits your budget. To help you ensure that that happens, in this article, we’ll break down exactly how to choose the right orthodontist for you.

How To Choose An Orthodontist: Factors to Consider

In recent years, orthodontic treatment for all ages has become more common. But how do you choose the right professional when you need one? Here are the factors to consider as you make this decision for you and/or your family:

Experience, Education, and Qualifications

It begins with education. Most orthodontists spend ten or more years in school, beginning with attaining a four-year undergraduate degree. Then they must attend dental school for another four years. Finally, there is a two to three-year orthodontic residency program that they must satisfy. 

The American Board of Orthodontics is who certifies all orthodontists. This certification indicates satisfactory completion of written and practical tests and allows the designation of “Board Certified Orthodontist.”  Make sure, also, that any orthodontist you consider belongs to one or more professional organizations, like the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO).

Also, keep in mind that all states require orthodontists to be licensed separately as a dentist and an orthodontist. This licensure is granted based on an exam, which varies by state.

As a potential patient, look for these degrees, certifications, and licenses when you visit. If you don’t immediately see them, ask for information about each. Check out their website; most orthodontists provide a great deal of information here.

Orthodontic experience is another important factor to consider for any orthodontist you are considering. This is measured in several ways: 

  • How long have they been in practice? 
  • Do they stay current with changes in the technology available?
  • Do they specialize in a particular treatment option? 
  • Can they refer you to past or present patients who are willing to share their experiences with you? 
  • What do all the online reviews show?

There is a lot to consider! So it is always best to look for an orthodontist before you need their expertise, rather than in an emergency.


Many orthodontists offer free consultations. As you meet with orthodontists, you will discover if each offers the treatments you need and if they can deliver the type of service that is important to you. Observe the office, the staff, the waiting room, and the overall ambiance of the experience (more on this below). 

Most consultations include a thorough assessment of your teeth and jaw. The orthodontist will discuss your goals and recommend treatment based on your discussion and their exam. You will have the opportunity to ask any questions you have to help toward your decision.

Types of Treatments Offered

This sounds obvious but assuming an orthodontist offers a treatment or product you want can lead to wasted time and money. For example, if you want Invisalign clear aligners but they don’t offer them, you will have to start all over again with another orthodontist. 

If you are interested in braces, the options are expanding all the time. Besides traditional metal, there is now also lingual, self-ligating, and clear ceramic braces. Do you know which type you want? Does the orthodontist you choose offer those? Are they the best ones for your goals?

Maybe there is a need for another service before your braces can be fitted. The removal of wisdom teeth or other supporting dental work can be done by a dentist. Or should the orthodontist do that? Make sure to ask and find out for certain.

Office Environment

This was mentioned briefly earlier, but let’s discuss this further. You will be visiting your orthodontist for many months, maybe even years. You want to be comfortable working with not only the doctor but his support and office staff. Here are some factors to consider when it comes to the orthodontist’s office itself:

Making Appointments

When you contacted the office to make your consultation appointment, was this process relatively simple? Was there a long wait time on hold? Was there an automated system that worked adequately? Did you have to use their website with no other option? The ease of making an appointment is an important factor to consider.

Handling of Paperwork

Was the necessary new patient paperwork you filled out before your visit handled satisfactorily? Did the office staff have it when you got to the office?

Office Staff

Were you greeted when you arrived? Was the office staff friendly and helpful? Were you kept informed if there was any problem or delay?

Ambiance & Cleanliness

Be observant. Check for the cleanliness of the office and the restrooms. Is the overall effect of the office welcoming and pleasant? When you are in the treatment areas, are the instruments wrapped for sterile use? Are handwashing protocols followed? Is outdated equipment being used?


This may seem minor at first, but as the months or years go by it will become an even more impactful issue. If the orthodontist’s office isn’t convenient to home, work, or school, it will become a problem. You need to be able to get to the office relatively quickly for scheduled treatment. If you can’t, there will be missed appointments and delays in treatment. 

Cost of Treatment and Payment Options

To receive the highest level of treatment you can afford, you need the facts first. During your consultation, find out what the treatment will cost and what options you have for payment. The orthodontist will generate a plan of treatment and then you can ask the office staff or business manager about any finance plans, discounts, or other payment options available to you. 

You can also explore dental insurance if you don’t already have any. Make sure the insurance will cover your specific treatment and to what levels. Know what your deductibles are. Don’t be afraid to call the insurance company directly to ask questions. It is important to do this before your treatment begins!

Successful Orthodontic Treatment Begins With Choosing the Right Orthodontist!

Knowing how to choose the right orthodontist is very important. You will be working with the doctor and their staff for months, perhaps years. Take the time to explore factors like cost, the orthodontist’s qualifications and education, the location of the office, and treatment availability before investing time and money with anyone. 

For an experienced and compassionate orthodontist you can trust, look no further than Ashby Orthodontics. We offer a wide range of effective orthodontic treatment options in a calm and relaxing space. We’ll customize a treatment plan for your mouth that will give you a straight, beautiful smile that you are proud to show off.

Contact us today to set up your consultation now!