3 questions to ask when choosing an orthodontist

Here at Surf City Smiles Orthodontics, we want our patients to feel informed and empowered from their first appointment to the last. Choosing to improve your oral health with orthodontic treatment is a big decision because it affects your whole body’s health. As an educated patient, you’ll know that your smile is too important to trust to anything less than an experienced orthodontist. But what if you’re not sure how to find one? To help you make the most informed choice, here are 3 questions to ask when choosing an orthodontist. Let’s take a look at what you should know before committing to an orthodontic practice for treatment!

Is the doctor a trained orthodontic specialist?

While this may seem like an obvious question, that doesn’t mean it can be overlooked. This is actually the most important question you can ask. A general dentist will typically offer common dental services such as crowns, fillings, dentures, and occasional orthodontic treatment like Invisalign. An orthodontist, on the other hand, spends their days providing only orthodontic services.

This distinction actually matters a great deal. Imagine for a moment that you or your child required specialized treatment or surgery. Would you feel comfortable with your family physician handling your case, or would you prefer a dedicated specialist? 

Orthodontists are essentially dentists who also have several years of additional specialized training and experience. This means an orthodontist has:

  • studied the growth and maturation of the teeth and jaw
  • been introduced to numerous case studies
  • developed diagnostic skills
  • learned biomechanical techniques to properly move teeth
  • studied how to change the development of the dental alveolar complex and facial growth of younger patients

To give you an idea of how competitive orthodontic residency programs are, they only the top students in any dental school graduating class. These orthodontic programs tend to last around 2-3 years and include full-time training that focuses on correcting orthodontic issues with braces and aligners. While there are exceptions to every rule, most dentists will not possess this level of exhaustive orthodontic training and experience. 

A true Southern California native, Dr. Carlson was born and raised in Orange County. He graduated Summa Cum Laude from UCLA with a Doctorate of Dental Surgery before continuing on and completing his Specialty Certificate in Orthodontics and a Masters Degree in Oral and Craniofacial Biology, also at UCLA.

He was honored with the Best Case presented at the 2014 American Board of Orthodontics Examination. In 2016, Dr. Carlson published a Case Report in the prestigious American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics (AJODO), which was later chosen as the 2017 Case Report of the Year College of Diplomates of the American Board of Orthodontics. His contributions to orthodontic research include furthering automated analysis of three-dimensional surface morphology in craniofacial structures.

3 questions to ask when choosing an orthodontist

What treatment options does the orthodontist offer?

Surf City Smiles Orthodontics has a wide variety of aesthetic treatments available to patients of all ages in Huntington Beach and the surrounding areas. 

Lingual braces

Lingual braces, also called hidden braces, are unique in that they are attached to the backside of the teeth and, therefore, almost completely invisible. Lingual braces are customized to match the shape of your teeth perfectly, so each appliance will be created specifically for you. 

Clear braces

Sometimes called ceramic braces, these function in the same way metal braces do, but are made of clear materials instead of stainless steel. Because they’re not as noticeable as metal braces, they’re popular with older teens and adult patients who may be more image-conscious. They are larger and more brittle than their metal counterparts, so we tend to use them on the upper front teeth more often than the lower teeth. 

Invisalign Clear aligners

Invisalign Clear aligners are removable orthodontic appliances that use a series of customized aligners to straighten the teeth. Because the aligners are clear and can be removed, you can eat and drink as they normally would, plus brushing and flossing effectively is as easy as it was before your treatment. 

How frequent are follow-up visits with the orthodontist?

No matter how you choose to straighten your teeth, you’ll be visiting our Huntington Beach offices regularly for adjustment appointments. These appointments are typically scheduled every 4-8 weeks. During these visits, Dr. Carlson will replace any worn-out rubber bands, check the progress your teeth are making, and make adjustments to the wires to ensure that the teeth are moving in the right direction. 

If you are an Invisalign clear aligner patient, you won’t need to come in as frequently. However, your check-in appointments are still an essential part of the orthodontic process. It’s important not to miss them! 

Every case is unique and will take a different time based on how your teeth and jaw respond to treatment. But, the average patient will spend anywhere from 12-36 months years in treatment. You’ll be seeing us regularly throughout your orthodontic journey! We know families these days are busy, and we value your time, so we never overbook patients and always aim to see you at your scheduled time.

3 questions to ask when choosing an orthodontist

Leave your smile to the experts at Surf City Smiles Orthodontics

Dr. Carlson is unmatched in skill, expertise, and experience, so he can provide an excellent smile as no one else can. Since our specialty is orthodontics, you’ll receive nothing but the best in treatments, cost, and efficiency. We work to give you a stunning smile that’s unforgettable!

If you’re ready to take the first step in your orthodontic journey, we would love to meet you and talk more about the smile you want! There’s never been a better time to take the first step towards a healthier smile, so get in touch today to schedule your FREE consultation with Dr. Carlson!

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