By Alison Johnson, Special to Tribune Newspapers
3:01 PM EST, December 28, 2011
Getting braces or other orthodontic work can require frequent appointments and hefty payments, so choosing the right doctor is a must. "You are entering a relationship that could last years," says Dr. Alan Bagden, an orthodontist in Springfield, Va. Some tips:
Ask for lots of recommendations. Don't just stop with your dentist: Check in with friends, neighbors, co-workers and nearby relatives. Visit the websites of potential practices.
Request a no-obligation consultation. At these initial meetings — often free — discuss treatment goals, the doctor's experience in correcting specific problems, payment options and insurance policies. Ask to see before-and-after patient photos. In large practices, it's also smart to meet the office manager.
Don't be afraid to seek a second (or third) opinion. Getting braces is a major commitment, so compare treatment approaches, prices and office atmosphere, including cleanliness and staff friendliness.
Be sure the doctor is board-certified in orthodontics. General dentists can take a few courses that allow them to perform orthodontic treatments, but they are not orthodontists. Rather, orthodontists are dentists who have undergone extra years of training, clinical experience and peer review.
Consider convenience. Ask about office hours, policies on changing appointments and how a practice handles emergency situations. If possible, select an office close to your home or work or your child's school, because you might be heading there at least monthly for years.
Be comfortable with your orthodontist as a person. You want to look forward to the visits, not dread them. If a child will be the patient, bring him or her to meet a potential doctor.
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