How to Choose Orthodontist
1. Ask around
Ask your family, friends, and neighbors for references. If they have had good or bad experience they can tell you. Search in internet forum and ask people in the forum.
Ask your dentist if she/he can recommend a good orthodontist. Your health insurance may have recommendations too. I did this all and at the end somehow every orthodontist in my city has no bad reputation.
Braces treatment is very individual, what can work well for someone does not mean will work well on you. It is suggested that you ask at least two or three orthodontist for their opinions before you decide anything.
Make a phone call or better come over to have a first overall impression how the dental practice looks like, how friendly they are, how many patients are waiting, what kind of patients are they (adult or children). In Germany in many cases dental practice patients are children. If you meet adult patient (or nearly adult) you can ask for her/his impression.
As you make the appointment, clarify about the consultation costs. Funnily in Germany the first consultation is covered by health insurance, but some orthodontist wants to give a private bill.
Now when you have the appointment, get ready with your questions. Prepare a list of questions to avoid forgetting important things (e.g. options, reasons, risks/complication, possible results that can be expected, costs, treatment time, references, braces systems available)
First summarize your problems and your expectation. For me it was both medicinal reason and cosmetic. I would love to have my crooked teeth corrected and to have more harmonized face. Yup I have crooked teeth, my right jaw is making cracking noise when opened, and I am not proud of how I look especially from side.
A good orthodontist will pay attention on your problems and expectations. If he/she does not, then search for another orthodontist. I speak from my own experience. My first orthodontist suggest only brackets without pulling teeth, which is on one side a good thing, on the other side a bad thing since with that method my teeth will be straight but I would look like a chimpanzee.
The second orthodontist suggested pulling all first molars and took hell a lot of time explaining me how things work (I was there for nearly 45minutes), on contrary to the first one which looked unhappy with my questions and didn’t satisfy me with his answers.
The third orthodontist suggested the same thing as the second one. He was friendly. However it was only 15 minutes before he walked me to the door. He would also charge more than the second one.
I think you can guess which orthodontist I chose.
2. Bring someone with you (e.g. mother/father, husband/wife, friend) to meet orthodontists.
Two pairs of ears can listen more, and another pair of lips can also complete your questions should you forget something.
3. Based on your teeth complexity and your expectation, your orthodontist will be able to make a quick diagnose and give you treatment suggestion(s).
It can be teeth bracket with teeth extraction or without extraction, or combined with surgical treatment for jaw/bone reconstruction) Ask back until you understand, ask your orthodontist to explain who each suggestion/method will change your face structure; ask what are the risks of each method. If necessary, make a note of your consultation session, write down the risk and result expectation from each suggestion. Another question that you can ask your orthodontist is what kind of teeth brackets methods are he is offering. Later on you may go deeper by asking in detail how each bracket method work, besides for this you can do pre-research by yourself.
This consultation hour should function like an interview time, make sure you get an image of the dentist and the treatment, you can decide later to which orthodontist you will start your treatment. Important factors to notice during your interviews are: competence, skills, references (if you don’t have a reference yet, kindly ask for references), your feeling whether you feel comfortable with him/her. You will be trusting him/her your precious teeth and related face structure. You will be visiting him/her quite often and regularly during your treatment period, so make really sure that you feel comfortable with him and how he works.
4. Go home with your “new” knowledge. Sleep over a night. Think about different options you have. If you have got new references, call them or meet them for more information.
Take all time you need to make decision. No need to rush. No need to delay it too long too. Since I was kid I have had crooked teeth and I should have had my treatment long ago. However due to many reasons, nothing was done in that respect. Since two years ago I started to think about it again and was determined to do something.
I had gathered information, started visiting orthodontists; thought about it over and over, got worried and afraid, and did nothing out of feeling insecurity. It took me about 1.5 years to finally sign a contract with an orthodontist I chose. If I had done this 1.5 years ago I would have my braces treatment nearly done by now. J
So now I will trust my dentist and do engage with the stuff.
Good luck choosing a good orthodontist.