Have you ever struggled with the question “How do I find an orthodontist near me?” If you have, you will find this post useful since here we've put together an overview of what you should know about orthodontists and what services they provide.
People usually assume that all practitioners in the dental field are the same. But the truth is quite far from that assumption. For instance, an orthodontist is very different from a general dentist.
While both medical experts have to do with the umbrella field of ‘dentistry,’ an orthodontist specializes in teeth-straightening treatments. So unless you’ve had problems with jaw alignment, suffered from bad bites, or simply needed braces, it’s unlikely that you've come across an orthodontist.
Table of contents
- 1 What is an orthodontist?
- 2 Are all dentists orthodontists?
- 3 Why might I need to find an orthodontist near me?
- 4 What symptoms indicate that I have a misaligned bite?
- 5 How much does it cost to visit an orthodontist?
- 6 Orthodontic Treatment Financing Options
- 7 Finding an affordable orthodontist near you
- 8 Caring for teeth during and after orthodontic treatment
- 9 Conclusion
- 10 FAQs
What is an orthodontist?
A healthy, functional bite is what we need to properly chew and enjoy delicious food. And for a healthy bite, our teeth and jaws should be perfectly aligned. Appropriately aligned teeth not only contribute to a beautiful-looking smile but also clear speech.
If people suffer from misaligned teeth, it not only affects how they look while smiling but can also result in painful tooth movement. While the reasons behind improper teeth alignment can be different, they are primarily caused by genetics and habits such as childhood thumb-sucking.
Correcting such teeth issues is where orthodontic treatment comes into the picture. Orthodontists are dental experts who help diagnose, treat, and also prevent dental abnormalities and facial irregularities. The main focus areas of an orthodontist are aspects of the mouth that includes gums, teeth, and the jaw.
Such experts can also treat the pain associated with misaligned teeth, but their main priority is teeth straightening. Using tools like braces, orthodontists can help you get perfectly sequenced teeth. Braces come in many forms, from metal brackets and wires fixed to teeth to clear removable aligners. Depending on the severity of your condition, your orthodontist may suggest one of these kinds of braces.
If your dentist refers you to an orthodontist, don’t worry; you will be in good hands. Orthodontists train for an additional three to five years after dental school, so you can trust their judgement and the treatment they suggest.
Here's a short video from the American Dental Association that will help you get a better picture.
Are all dentists orthodontists?
The short answer: no. But to make the difference clearer, allow us to simply describe what each expert does.
Dentists are medical practitioners who deal with teeth, gum, jaw, and overall oral health. Orthodontists, however, are specialists dealing with specific problems like bite correction, facial irregularities, malocclusion, and misaligned teeth. Both professionals hold a degree in dentistry, but in order to qualify as an orthodontist, a specialization is required. Usually, orthodontists train for an additional three to five years after dental school to complete their specialization.
Depending on your dental condition and oral health, the next time you visit your dentist you may be referred to an orthodontist for specialist treatment.
Why might I need to find an orthodontist near me?
During your regular dental checkups, if your dentist finds that you have one of the following oral issues, they will refer you to an orthodontist nearby.
Noticeable gaps between teeth
A visible gap or space between teeth is called diastema. Common in adults as well as children, these spaces can form anywhere in the mouth. The problem can be present from birth, and sometimes it can be noticeable enough to require cosmetic treatment.
Orthodontists can help you with such an issue by using techniques like braces. Braces contain wires that place your teeth under pressure, thereby forcing them to align perfectly. But often people avoid braces because they believe braces look unpleasant and have to be worn for long periods.
If you don’t want braces, you may be able to ask your orthodontist about alternative cosmetic procedures like veneers. A veneer is a white-colored composite that is used to fill in the gaps between teeth, hiding the gap and improving your smile. However, veneers are more suitable in the case of small tooth gaps but may not be effective for larger gaps in teeth.
Sometimes teeth can be too small to fill the space in the gums, and this can result in a crooked smile. While the oral condition is usually from birth, habits like pacifier sucking or thumb-sucking can also cause crooked teeth in babies. Your nearest orthodontist can suggest treatments for crooked teeth.
One option is applying different types of braces like ceramic, metal, lingual, and invisible aligners. However, braces usually involve a long process that can take years to get the correct alignment, depending on the severity of the case. Also, braces are not recommended for children younger than 7 years of age.
Irregularity in jawbones can cause teeth to sit improperly in the mouth and lead to bite problems. This condition can contribute to issues with eating, talking, sleeping, and even breathing.
The process of realigning poorly aligned teeth is called orthognathic treatment, or jaw surgery. It is meant to make your bites easier and provide relief from facial asymmetry problems like small chins, underbites, overbites, and cross-bites.
Although orthodontic treatments might sound complex, they can relieve you of a lifetime of oral health issues.
What symptoms indicate that I have a misaligned bite?
Unless your dentist points it out, it may be difficult to know and recognize that you have a misaligned bite. The indications can be so subtle that you may overlook them for temporary issues. However, a misaligned bite can cause more trouble than you can imagine.
If you notice any of the following signs, you should know that your bite isn’t quite right.
If your jaw doesn’t fit in your mouth perfectly, you can face difficulty when speaking. This happens because your teeth obstruct your tongue’s ability to move freely. As a result, your words may come out slightly garbled and you may not be able to enunciate well. In severe cases, a patient may even develop a lisp.
Problems while biting or chewing
If your teeth don’t come together properly, you may end up placing unnecessary pressure on your teeth every time you move them. This can result in discomfort or pain while biting and chewing food.
A misaligned bite resulting from overlapping or crowded teeth can make brushing and flossing problematic. In turn, you can face issues like cavities and gum diseases because of improper cleaning of all the crevices of your mouth. So if you’re having trouble brushing, the cause could well be a bad bite.
Teeth grinding or clenching
Some people clench or grind their teeth when they sleep. Although there could be other reasons for it, the inability of your teeth to fit correctly is the primary trigger behind this. When you sleep, your jaw muscles automatically attempt to fit your teeth into a natural position, causing the grinding. As a result, after waking up you may experience facial pain, headaches, earaches, worn-down teeth, and stiffness in the jaw and surrounding muscles that can lead to temporomandibular disorder (TMD).
It’s natural for you to want to bite properly, but forcefully doing so can lead to stress on your jaw muscles, eventually leading to discomfort and pain. If this is happening with you, you should see a nearby orthodontist immediately. Additionally, if you notice a clicking or pain when opening your mouth to speak, yawn, or eat, you should know that there might be an issue with your teeth or jaws.
How much does it cost to visit an orthodontist?
Depending on the type of orthodontic treatment you require, the cost can vary. Your orthodontist may be able to offer you a choice from a few options (and then you may be able to choose depending on your budget and preferences), or they may recommend a specific treatment that best suits your condition.
Here are some of the more common treatments you may discuss with your orthodontist:
Orthodontic Treatment Financing Options
The cost of orthodontic treatment varies from region to region. Every doctor has their own charges based on the facility services they offer. While orthodontic treatment may seem a little high-priced at times, there are many ways to make it fit into your budget.
These are usually traditional metal braces that are less expensive than invisible aligners like Invisalign, but equally effective. While they are quite noticeable, you can choose a variety that appeals to you most (tooth-colored, gold, stainless steel, etc.). Low-cost braces can cost anywhere from $2,500 to $7,500 without insurance.
Another lower-cost option and alternative to both traditional braces and Invisalign are at-home clear aligners. At-home or mail-order aligners are available for patients with mild to moderate teeth straightening needs and can cost up to 60% less than braces and Invisalign. That's because there are no in-office visits with your dentist or orthodontist, allowing these companies to cut down considerably on service costs. If you'd like to learn more about clear aligner treatment, you can read about some of the best options in our full guide here.
Visiting a dental school
Dental schools are more affordable than a full-time braces orthodontist. They have separate outpatient departments open for taking patients, and the payment is often half of the original cost. The cost of treatment at a dental school varies, but some services may even be free.
You can also choose financing for your treatments at pre-negotiated rates with the bank.
Some orthodontists offer a payment plan in advance. This way you'll be able to analyze costs better. Often the office offers a consultation session to discuss your oral issues and financing. When you visit, make sure the orthodontist accepts your insurance, if you have it. They will be able to guide you better on what procedures are covered in your health plan.
Insurance won't cover everything, and sometimes there is a waiting period for certain services. Your orthodontist's office should be able to help you determine what to expect in terms of out-of-pocket costs. If you're choosing an insurance plan, carefully compare several plans regarding premiums and coverage. The more time you spend on this ahead of time, the better your chances of saving money later.
Sometimes cost-saving strategies don’t work and you have to opt for a full-priced orthodontic treatment. It is advised to put aside a health budget each month to better tackle such situations.
Finding an affordable orthodontist near you
There are several methods you can use to find affordable orthodontic offices near you. But it’s important to maintain a balance between budget and expertise. You wouldn't want to risk compromising on the quality of treatment just to minimize costs.
Start with referrals from your regular dentist. Since they know your medical history, they'll be able to come up with the best suggestions for you. Also, you can be open about budget issues with your regular practitioner. Other sources of information would be Google and phone directories. You could also check with your local health department about affordable and discounted dental services near you. CMS (1-800-MEDICARE) can provide detailed information about the local government programs in your area including Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP (Children's Health Insurance Program).
Remember to opt for the expert or clinic that has the best user reviews (especially if you’re selecting one through an online reference). Often people leave comments about the facilities provided by clinics and also offer tips on managing the cost of the treatments. Carefully read such reviews before finalizing on your orthodontist and service.
The above mentioned methods are usually pretty effective for locating a nearby orthodontist. However, if you want to save some time, instead of having to call around multiple offices you can simply call 844-207-7106 to get connected with a local orthodontist in your area.
Caring for teeth during and after orthodontic treatment
Undergoing an orthodontic treatment can leave you with slightly uncomfortable teeth alignment for a little while (because you may not be used to the new way your teeth fit). Though it may not be possible to complete avoid this phase, you may be able to minimize any discomfort you’re having by following a few best practices to ensure optimum oral hygiene.
Brush & floss regularly
Brush your teeth after each meal and scrub your tongue as well. Having a healthy oral regime that involves brushing twice a day (once in the morning and once right before bed) will keep you away from several oral issues. Additionally, flossing can help you to remove plaque that doesn’t go away with brushing.
People wearing braces might want to brush more often, especially after meals. And though flossing with braces may seem challenging, there are usually a few simple tricks you can use to do this comfortably.
Visit your dentist regularly for scheduled dental cleanings
Another preventive measure you can take is visiting your dentist regularly for a dental cleaning. If you have any gum disease (or symptoms of that or other problems), then your dentist will be able to identify it and provide the necessary treatment. Even if after regular flossing and brushing any plaque is left, a professional cleaning can remove it. It will help you prevent gingivitis, an oral disease caused due to tartar left in between your teeth.
Use fluoride toothpaste
Make sure the toothpaste you are using contains fluoride. Fluoride helps protect teeth against cavities and tooth decay.
Smoking slows down the healing process and makes your immune system weak. Often, dentists suggest quitting smoking if you suffer from weakened teeth and gum diseases. In addition to causing problems with gums, smoking regularly leads to discoloring of teeth, a problem that's quite noticeable and often referred as smokers' teeth.
We hope that now you know the basic differences between a dentist and an orthodontist. Remember, visiting one of these experts doesn’t mean you shouldn’t visit the other if the need arises. Each has their expertise and can help you in a unique way. Although following a good oral health routine can help prevent issues, regular visits to the dentist can help identify problems at early stages.
What is an orthodontist?
An orthodontist is a dental specialist who helps diagnose, treat, and prevent dental abnormalities and facial irregularities. The main focus areas of an orthodontist are mouth, gums, teeth, and jaw. Such experts can also treat the pain associated with misaligned teeth, but their main priority is teeth straightening.
How do I find an orthodontist near me?
Consulting your dentist would be the best way to reach an orthodontist near you. You could also search for nearby orthodontists on Google or a phone directory or check with your local health department for information. Or, if you're a little short of time and want to find an orthodontist near you quickly, you can call 844-207-7106 to get connected with a dentist in your area. The dentist can point you in the direction of a local orthodontist.
Can I treat an orthodontic issue at home?
Completely eradicating an orthodontic issue at home might not be possible, but you can do a lot to minimize discomfort and pain from any oral issue that you’re having. A mouth rinse with warm salt water will reduce the soreness of mouth and teeth. Take one spoonful of salt in 8 ounces of warm water and wash your mouth with it. Regularly rinse for a few days, but seek professional help if the condition persists.
What should I do if my braces become loose?
If the brackets of your braces become loose, make sure you seek professional help immediately, as such correctional procedures are better done by orthodontists themselves. While you can adopt home remedies to ease pain, the final procedure should be carried out by professionals.