On the assumption that your city has a number of orthodontists, how do you go about choosing the right one? Firstly it is important to realise there is a difference between a specialist orthodontist and a dentist offering orthodontics. Any dentist can offer orthodontics and many attend various training events run by a number of the different bracket and system manufacturers to equip them with the skills to use their products. An orthodontist is a dentist who has completed a further three years study and who usually specialises just in orthodontics and is likely to have a great deal more experience in dealing with not only complex cases, but will have a much better appreciation of all the factors that need to be considered in addition to producing a cosmetically pleasing result.

Most orthodontists clearly display their qualifications on their website so you need to look out for ‘specialist orthodontist’ if you wish to choose this route. You can also check on the General Dental Council website which lists all dentists and their qualifications and I have linked the site below.

If you decide to go for a dentist offering orthodontics, you may want to think about asking how much experience they have and what systems and products they propose to use and what advantage this offers you. In a previous post I have detailed many questions to think about and this should give you an indication of whether the dentist is offering the right solution for you. You can view the post here.

Once you have decided on a number of practices, take a look at their website to see what they offer in terms of treatment options, opening times etc. as this will give you a feel for the practice. Your next step would be to give them a call, how did they treat you over the phone, were you made to feel valued, did your questions get answered and did they indicate the next step?

After you have narrowed your list, pay them a visit and this will give you a very good feel for the practice.  It is unrealistic to expect that someone would be able to spend an hour with you if you turn up unannounced but whilst there, did they make you feel welcome, did they answer your questions and suggest options to consider?  Most importantly, did you feel comfortable?  This is important as you will not only be spending a lot of time there over the next few years if you decide to proceed but will also be  parting with a lot of money too.

By this stage you should have narrowed your choice to maybe a couple of practices and it is now worthwhile arranging a consultation to meet the orthodontist and to find out what they can do for you. Again, it is important to feel comfortable and confident that the solutions proposed are what you are looking for. Maybe they will suggest an alternative solution or dismiss your initial thoughts based on their experience and expertise and this is something you need to consider carefully. In my case, my orthodontist was honest about which treatment solutions would be most suitable and the time it may take and in doing so, built up trust early in our relationship.

There is no simple checklist for finding the best practice, it will take time and effort and in doing so, you will learn more about this fascinating topic and get a better understanding about what to look for.

General Dental Council