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10 Questions to Ask Your Orthodontist

By May 5, 2021February 15th, 2023No Comments
orthodontist questions from screen monitoring

So, you’ve decided you want straight teeth, a healthy bite and, of course, a fantastic smile. Yet, before you kick off the teeth-straightening process, the first step is choosing the right orthodontist. Remember, any treatment is only as good as the doctor performing it. You can’t just put on braces or wear Invisalign and call it a day. It takes a lot of behind-the-scenes planning, expertise, and skill to achieve lasting, stunning results. You want to make sure your orthodontist is on the same page as you and has the necessary training to give you the new smile you deserve. 

What Are the Most Frequent Orthodontist Questions Dr. Jeff Gets?

At Jeffrey Kwong Orthodontics, my team and I are all about ensuring our patients feel comfortable and confident about their treatment and our office in general, which is why we encourage and welcome any and all questions. Are you unsure of where to start and wondering, “What should I ask my orthodontist?” Here are 10 basic orthodontist questions to get the ball rolling at your initial orthodontic consultation:

1. What kind of experience and qualifications do you have?

Sometimes, people are afraid they’ll insult the orthodontist by asking this question, but it’s so important. A reputable doctor will be more than happy to answer and if someone refuses, you should probably reconsider going to them. Orthodontics is a complex discipline and takes a whole lot of training to master.

Becoming a certified specialist in orthodontics requires earning a bachelor’s degree, followed by a doctorate from dental school, and then wrapping things up by spending several years in an orthodontic residency program, gaining hands-on experience treating patients. In fact, I spent about 7,000 hours in my residency alone learning about the intricacies of treating bite issues! Be sure your prospective orthodontist is certified and qualified to offer your preferred treatment options. You’ll also want to inquire as to whether they’ve successfully dealt with cases similar to yours (you can see our real-life crowding, spacing, crossbite, open bite, underbite and overbite smile transformations in our smile gallery). 

2. Do you only do Orthodontics or do you also offer other services like cleanings, fillings, root canals, or gum disease treatment?

This is in the same vein as the previous orthodontist question, but it’s a simple one to ask that can easily distinguish an orthodontist from another practitioner. Since an orthodontist is a specialist, they don’t do cleanings, fillings, or other services. They only provide orthodontic treatment. (I go into more detail in my post on orthodontist vs. dentist.)

3. What types of orthodontic treatment do you offer?

Thanks to technology and constant advances in the field, there are a slew of teeth-straightening options. The one that’s best for you will depend on your orthodontic issues, lifestyle, and preferences. There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all orthodontic approach. At Jeffrey Kwong Orthodontics, my team and I offer traditional metal braces, ceramic braces, gold braces, InBrace® lingual braces, Invisalign®, and Invisalign Teen clear aligners. 

Variety is a good thing. If, for example, you’re a young professional who doesn’t want to broadcast the fact that you’re undergoing orthodontic treatment, you’re responsible when it comes to oral hygiene, and you rock out on a wind instrument on the weekends, Invisalign or InBrace hidden braces could be the ideal choice. Or, maybe, you’ve always dreamed of having a fancy, golden smile and gold braces are a must for you. Ask what’s on the practice’s treatment menu to see if they can meet your needs. 

However, watch out for marketing that sounds too good to be true, because taglines like “Faster Braces” or “6 Month Smiles” should immediately make you think of this emoji: 🤔🤔🤔. I’ll tell you a secret, teeth don’t know the difference between a metal brace or a plastic aligner; all they know is that pressure is being applied and teeth should only move at a reasonable rate to avoid problems.


4. How long will treatment take and how many visits will I need?

How long does Invisalign take? How long do braces take? It will vary depending on your needs. Find out what the orthodontist proposes as far as the length of your treatment, how often you’ll need to come in for adjustments or checkups, and how long each appointment will usually last. Sometimes, two-phase treatment will be recommended when there are specific concerns about the growth and development of a child’s teeth and jaws. Get the details from your doctor and an estimate of the duration of each phase.

5. What’s your availability?

In addition to checking out the office hours, inquire about whether the orthodontist splits time between multiple offices or is dedicated to one location. This makes a big difference when you or your child need a “comfort appointment” to clip a wire or repair a bracket. If the orthodontist has several part-time offices, it can really affect the availability of regular appointments. 

We’ve had patients stop by Jeffrey Kwong Orthodontics needing an emergency orthodontist visit because their regular doctor wasn’t at the practice they usually go to that day. Similarly, you might want to ask, “Will you be seeing my child throughout their treatment?” It’s possible that multiple doctors may be working together to treat patients, which can affect the continuity of care and the execution of the treatment plan. As a full-time orthodontist at a single office in El Dorado Hills, CA, I’m available and I see patients throughout their entire treatment.

6. What is the cost of orthodontic treatment?

While you can find an average cost of braces or Invisalign online, the price varies by patient and practice. Your actual braces or Invisalign cost will be influenced by the complexity of your case, the length of your treatment, and what type of braces or appliances you wear. We always discuss costs upfront at Jeffrey Kwong Orthodontics, there are never any hidden fees, and we strive to make braces and Invisalign affordable for all our patients.

We accept most insurance plans, determine your coverage, and, as a courtesy to you for being amazing, we file the paperwork on your behalf. If your insurance does cover orthodontic treatment, it can greatly reduce your out-of-pocket braces or Invisalign cost. We also offer interest-free, in-house financing and payment plans. 

However, every office is different and it’s important to compare apples to apples. Talk about the financial details before you start treatment and make sure there will be no surprises. Choosing an orthodontist who can accommodate your budget, will mean you can focus on treatment, as opposed to how you’re going to pay the bill.

7. Will extractions be needed?

I do everything I can to avoid extractions but about 5-10% of the time, there’s no way around them. Not many patients want to get teeth pulled, but if the orthodontist has a solid plan for your treatment and extractions are the way to get the final results you want, it’s worth the sacrifice. Yet, you should chat about it at the initial consultation and find out why they believe a tooth extraction for braces or Invisalign is the best route. You can even ask to check out my smile since I was part of that lucky 5% that needed to have teeth out. Keep in mind, that having teeth out doesn’t mean leaving spaces; it means closing up the spaces so that it looks like teeth haven’t been removed.

8. Will Invisalign or braces change my face shape?

Braces, Invisalign, and other appliances help align the bite and jaws, as well as align the teeth into the correct position. This can change the shape of your face, especially when we’re addressing smile concerns like an overbite, crossbite, or underbite. Knowing this ahead of time will help set your expectations. 

This is another reason why your list of orthodontist questions should include one concerning qualifications and training. You don’t want to trust your grin and facial structure to just anyone. After spending years in training and treating thousands of patients, I know how appliances like Invisalign and braces change the face shape, and I plan out tooth movements based on your dental and facial anatomy. This ensures the end results help you look your absolute best and any face changes after braces or Invisalign are positive and complement your features. 

9. What things can I expect to be improved?

Once your orthodontist has a chance to examine you and take dental x-rays and photographs, they’ll come up with a diagnosis and can map out a treatment plan. Have them walk you through this diagnosis, their proposed course of action, and tell you what the results will be like. Orthodontic treatment is an investment and you should be thrilled with the outcome! 

10. Will I need a retainer?

The answer to this question better be, yes. The only way to maintain results for life is to wear an orthodontic retainer. If you don’t wear one, your teeth will quickly shift back into their old positions and, eventually, you’ll probably need braces or Invisalign again. We haven’t quite found the fountain of youth yet, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that  everything in your body will change over time. Retainers can help minimize this change by preventing jaw or teeth shifting.  One of the things that sets us apart is our lifetime retainer guarantee; it’s here to build value and save you hundreds to thousands of dollars in retainers and retreatment.

Use these orthodontist questions – and feel free to add your own – when you visit an orthodontist for your first consultation so you know if the practice is a good fit. Your smile is important and you want it to be in expert hands. Getting as much information as possible before starting treatment will help guide your decisions.

If you’re in the market for braces or Invisalign in El Dorado Hills, Folsom, Cameron Park, Placerville and the surrounding area, schedule a free consultation at Jeffrey Kwong Orthodontics today. My team and I strive to cover all of the important details but if you’re left with any lingering orthodontist questions, ask away!

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