What To Ask When Choosing An Orthodontist

Here at Dudley Smiles, we want our patients to feel informed and empowered from their initial consultation to their final appointment. After all, choosing to improve your oral health with orthodontic treatment is a big decision! 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 get you started on your orthodontic journey, we’ve put together this list of what to ask when choosing an orthodontist to make an informed decision on your care.

Let’s take a closer look at what you should know before committing to an orthodontic practice for your treatment!

Are you seeing a trained orthodontic specialist?

It may seem obvious, but this is actually the most important question you can ask when exploring braces treatment or clear aligner therapy. That’s because some general dentists are also able to provide orthodontic treatment, even though they don’t specialize in it. 

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 accept the top students from any dental school’s graduating class. These orthodontic programs tend to last around two to three 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 same level of exhaustive orthodontic training and experience. 

Dr. Silas Dudley is passionate about improving his patients’ lives through orthodontic treatment! As a native of Mercer Island, Dr. Dudley attended Pepperdine University for his undergraduate career before going on to complete his Doctorate of Dental Surgery at the University of the Pacific Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry.  

Dr. Dudley chose orthodontics because he wanted to make a difference in people’s lives, helping them build confidence and self-esteem. He earned his Orthodontic Certificate and Master of Science in Dentistry from the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine. Today, he is proud to treat patients of all ages in Issaquah, Kent, and the surrounding communities. 

types of braces

What treatment options does the orthodontist offer?

Dudley Smiles offers a wide variety of aesthetic treatments available to patients in Issaquah and Kent, including clear braces and clear aligners.

Metal braces

Traditional metal braces are the most common type of braces and are more comfortable today than ever before. Made of high-grade stainless steel, metal braces straighten your teeth using metal brackets and archwires. With metal braces, you have the option of adding colored elastics (rubber bands) for a more unique and colorful smile.

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 are less visible than traditional 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

The Invisalign system is made up of a series of customized aligners that are nearly invisible and completely removable. Unlike traditional braces, no brackets and wires are needed to move the teeth! This offers our Dudley Smiles patients a measure of freedom and flexibility that traditional braces just can’t beat. Designed to fit snugly but comfortably over your own teeth, Invisalign provides a more subtle and comfortable orthodontic experience. When worn the recommended 20-22 hours per day, and changed out weekly with the next in the set, these aligners will gradually move your teeth into the desired positions.

Invisalign Teen

Although Invisalign and Invisalign Teen work the same way when it comes to the underlying technology, Invisalign Teen was developed with the unique needs of teen patients in mind. There are a few special features that are specific to the Invisalign Teen system, including the following:

Compliance indicators

To help teens stick to their treatment plan, Invisalign Teen has a compliance indicator incorporated into each aligner. This will fade from blue to clear as it is used, providing a visual approximation of wear. This lets patients, parents, and Dr. Dudley keep track of patient use. If a teen is skipping out on hours, it will be noticeable in enough time for us to correct compliance, thus keeping the overall process moving along at the right pace.

Eruption tabs

This feature accommodates the growth of the second molars in young adults, helping to keep space open for unerupted teeth and making it possible to treat a wider range of conditions with Invisalign.

Replacement aligners

We all lose or damage things from time to time. While we encourage all of our Invisalign patients to be careful with their aligners, teens don’t need to worry about misplacing or losing one. Invisalign Teen anticipates it happening, and provides up to six replacement aligners at no charge, just in case!

How frequent are follow-up visits with the orthodontist?

Whatever treatment option you choose, you can expect relatively frequent visits to your orthodontist. For most patients, adjustment appointments will be scheduled for every 4-8 weeks or so in the office location most convenient for you. During these visits, Dr. Dudley 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. 

Patients in clear aligners may be seen slightly less frequently, but these appointments are still an essential part of the orthodontic process, so you don’t want to miss them. 

While treatment time will always vary from case to case, 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.

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Leave your smile to the experts at Dudley Smiles

Once you know what to ask when choosing an orthodontist, you’ll be able to make the best choice for your smile. If you’re looking for the best in orthodontic care, Dr. Dudley is unmatched in skill, expertise, and the attention to detail he offers every patient. Since our sole specialty at Dudley Smiles is orthodontics, you’ll receive nothing but the best in treatments, cost, and efficiency as 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. Dudley!

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