Smiling is powerful. It can instantly improve your mood, reduce stress, and even retrain your brain to encourage positive-thinking patterns. Unfortunately, those who don’t like the way their teeth look try to hide their smile. The truth is that many beautiful smiles are the result of spectacular orthodontic work, not good genetics. Orthodontic treatment is a complex process that involves changes in jaw bones, facial bones, and soft tissue. Orthodontic treatment also helps reduce the development of tooth decay and gum diseases caused by overcrowded teeth, decreases problems with grinding teeth, and aligns protruding teeth or jaws. By choosing a good orthodontist, you can solve many issues at once. So how do you find the right one?

Start by asking for recommendations. Orthodontic work is so common that it is likely that several of your friends, family members, and co-workers have had it done. Ask them who they like and why. Your dentist is also a great reference point.

When researching orthodontists, verify that they are university trained. It is not uncommon for dentists to perform some orthodontic work without making it their specialty. You want someone who has not only graduated from a dental school, but who has also successfully completed an advanced study in orthodontics at an accredited orthodontic residency program. An easy way to verify this information is to confirm they are members of the American Association of Orthodontists by visiting their website. Only university trained orthodontists who have completed a specialty training program in orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics after graduating from dental school can be a member of the American Association of Orthodontists. For a doctor who goes the extra mile, check to see if they are board certified by the American Board of Orthodontics.

Once you create a list of orthodontists in your area, schedule an initial appointment. Take this time to make sure their office is up-to-date with the latest technology. For the best in equipment, look for a 3D scanner that makes electronic molds of teeth. If you are worried about radiation, look for an office that uses a digital x-ray and a cone beam x-ray machine. Digital x-rays use half the radiation of traditional film x-rays, while the cone beam is like the medical CAT scan except it exposes patients to much less radiation.

During the consultation, make sure you ask questions about the scope, length, and cost of treatment. It is important to know how long the treatment plan will take and what type of post-treatment is necessary. Ask about the processes and tools they use that are specific to the procedures you’re planning to undergo, and get a sense of what will be required to achive the best result. Compare costs and payment plan options with other orthodontic practices. If you are not 100 percent satisfied with your initial consultation, it never hurts to get a second opinion. You will have the chance to compare pricing and treatment plans before making your final decision. By considering the right things and getting the best information, you’ll be confident that you’re making the best choice.