What to Consider When Choosing an Orthodontist

A successful orthodontic treatment experience isn’t just about receiving professional and gentle care. You also need to trust that your doctor and the orthodontic team have your best interests in mind and at heart. At Whitewater Orthodontic Studios, we believe that the essence of good health is helping people – especially children – feel good about themselves, about us, and about others. Orthodontic treatment is more than just straightening teeth. Orthodontics builds self-esteem and self-confidence and will nurture this kind of good health. 

We prioritize patient education here because you should always know what’s going on with your treatment. So, we know you deserve an experienced orthodontist that helps you feel empowered from your first appointment to your most recent.

But what else should you be asking? To help you begin your orthodontic journey, we’ve put together this list of questions to ask before committing to an orthodontic practice for treatment. 

Is the doctor a trained orthodontic specialist?

You would think this is an easy one for your decision-making, but you might also be surprised to find out that just because your dentist offers orthodontic treatment that doesn’t mean they are specially trained in orthodontics. Many general dentists also provide braces treatment and clear aligner therapy in addition to standard dental services such as cleanings, fillings, crowns, and dentures. While an orthodontist, on the other hand, specializes only in providing orthodontic services. 

After a dentist has completed their undergraduate medical education, they must attend a graduate school specifically for dentistry and pass a certification exam before beginning their general dentistry work. The same goes for orthodontists, except they must attend an extremely competitive orthodontic residency program after their general dentistry certification. These programs typically last another 2 to 3 years and include full-time training meaning the orthodontist has:

  • Studied the growth and maturation of 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

While there are some exceptions, most dentists simply will not possess this level of in-depth orthodontic training and experience. If you are looking for foundational oral health maintenance, trust your dentist. But, if you need specialized orthodontic care, you can trust that Dr. Andrew Leavitt, DDS, MS, is a board-certified orthodontist. After graduating with honors and a Doctor of Dental Science degree from the University of Washington School of Dentistry, he continued there to earn his specialty training in orthodontics. During this time, he also worked to complete a master’s thesis and received a Master of Science in Dentistry along with his certificate of orthodontics.  You want an expert orthodontist like Dr. Leavitt to create your new smile–not aligners you order through the mail. 

At Whitewater Orthodontic Studios, the relationship between the patient and doctor is truly a partnership in striving for a common goal: to achieve and maintain a beautiful, healthy smile that will last a lifetime!

What to Consider When Choosing an Orthodontist

What treatment options does the orthodontist offer?

Most patients we treat opt for traditional metal braces to straighten their teeth, and while this is the most common option, you have several other options available to reach your smile goals quickly and effectively. By pairing state-of-the-art technology with our thorough understanding of the movement during facial growth, Dr. Leavitt can successfully treat many dental issues based on your unique needs and goals using metal braces, clear braces, Invisalign, and Invisalign Teen.

Metal Braces

Traditional metal braces are the most widely used type of fixed orthodontic appliance. Though past incarnations have been bulky, awkward, and painful, today’s metal braces are smaller, lighter, and more comfortable. Our advanced braces are made for efficient tooth movement and optimal patient comfort. No two people are alike, and our variety of colored ties allows you to truly individualize your orthodontic experience and match your style.

Clear Braces

Ceramic braces use the same components as traditional metal braces, but instead of metal, the brackets on the front side of the teeth are made of a transparent or tooth-colored ceramic material. This makes clear braces a common choice for teenagers and older patients who do not like the aesthetic of the metal look. Clear braces require more care as the ceramic pieces can break and are prone to staining depending on your eating and cleaning habits. 

Invisalign

Unlike traditional braces, orthodontic treatment with Invisalign doesn’t rely on a system of metal or ceramic brackets and wires. Instead, Invisalign uses 3-D computer technology to create a custom-fit series of invisible, removable acrylic trays that straighten your teeth by applying steady pressure on your teeth as you wear them. They are replaced every 1 to 2 weeks to make this adjustment gradually. Though you can remove them to eat and brush your teeth, you will need to wear them about 22 hours a day to be effective. 

Invisalign Teen

At Whitewater Orthodontic Studios, we also are excited to offer Invisalign Teen. This option works the same as standard Invisalign, but the trays have a small dot on the back to indicate adequate wear to help your teen stay accountable for their treatment. And, since we all know how forgetful and rough teens can be, this option also provides more trays to cover those inconveniences.

How frequent are follow-up appointments with the orthodontist? 

While your exact follow-up timing will vary depending on the orthodontic treatment plan you and our expert team determine is right for you, we will schedule most patients’ adjustment appointments every four to eight weeks. Patients using Invisalign may be seen slightly less frequently, but regardless, these appointments are crucial for your overall orthodontic process!

The average process will take anywhere from 8 to 36 months to achieve your perfect smile, but visible results are evident as early as the first few months with most treatment plans. We know you’re busy, and we value your time, just give us a heads up if you’re running late or need to reschedule, but don’t forget that your participation in the follow-up care is just as meaningful. 

What to Consider When Choosing an Orthodontist

When considering your options, you can trust Whitewater Orthodontic Studios with your smile!.

Whitewater Orthodontic Studios is your location for modern orthodontic treatment. Dr. Leavitt and his friendly team take pride in staying up-to-date on the latest in orthodontic treatment and braces technology. We have three offices conveniently located in Lacey, Parkland, and Yelm, WA, ensuring you get high-quality orthodontic care that is just minutes from your home, school, or work to fit your schedule. 

There’s never been a better time to reach for the smile you’ve always wanted, so get in touch today to schedule your FREE consultation with our expert orthodontic team! You’ll enjoy a comfortable and speedy smile journey because we invest in the latest treatments and technologies available to create the smile you expect and deserve.