Here at Howard Orthodontics, we believe that educated patients make the best partners in any orthodontic journey! It’s our goal to help you feel empowered and informed from your first appointment to the last. We know choosing to improve your oral health with orthodontic treatment is a big decision, and your smile is too important to trust to anything less than an experienced orthodontist. But what if you’re not sure where to start?
To help you begin your orthodontic journey, we’ve put together this list of what to ask when choosing an orthodontist to help you make an informed decision on your care. Keep reading below for a more detailed look at what you should know before committing to an orthodontic practice for treatment!
Is the doctor a trained orthodontic specialist?
As obvious as it seems, 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 like Dr. Howard, on the other hand, spends their days providing only orthodontic services.
This distinction 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
Orthodontic residency programs are extremely competitive, accepting only the top students in any dental school 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. Eric Howard trained at the University of Pennsylvania before attending his orthodontic residency at the University of Rochester in New York. While there, he was awarded a Ph.D. in Developmental Biology. His extensive training gives him the knowledge and experience to create beautifully aligned smiles for patients of all ages.
What treatment options does the orthodontist offer?
Howard Orthodontics has a wide variety of orthodontic treatments available to patients of all ages, including traditional metal braces and clear aligner therapy.
Traditional metal braces are the most common type of braces at Howard Orthodontics 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.
Also known as ceramic braces, this option works like metal braces but is made of clear materials and is, therefore, more subtle. While they are visually less prominent, they do require more attention to oral hygiene as ceramic braces are larger and are more brittle than their metal counterparts. For these reasons, ceramic braces tend to be used more on upper front teeth than on lower teeth and are used mainly on older teenagers and adult patients who have cosmetic concerns.
Clear aligners are a series of invisible, removable, and comfortable acrylic trays that straighten your teeth like braces. Not only are the aligners invisible, but they’re also removable, so you can eat and drink what you want while in treatment, plus brushing and flossing are less of a hassle. The aligners at Howard Orthodontics are comfortable and have no metal to cause mouth abrasions during treatment.
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. Howard will replace any worn-out rubber bands, check the progress your teeth are making, and make adjustments to the wires to ensure the teeth are being pulled 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!
While treatment time will always vary from case to case, the average patient will spend anywhere from 12-36 months years in treatment. You should be prepared to see us regularly! 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.
Trust your smile to the experts at Howard Orthodontics
Are you looking for an optimal orthodontic experience? Howard Orthodontics is unmatched in skill, expertise, and the level of care every patient receives! Since our sole specialty is orthodontics, you’ll receive nothing but the best in treatments, cost, and efficiency as we work to straighten your smile.
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 go after the smile you’ve always wanted, so contact our Lancaster office today to schedule your FREE consultation!