Thanks to recent advancements in orthodontic technology, it’s never been easier to achieve a straighter smile. If you’re looking to improve your oral health, numerous treatment options are available, from braces to Invisalign clear aligners. There are also many orthodontists to choose from, although this step may leave you feeling a little overwhelmed!
You don’t want to trust something as important as your smile to just anybody—for the best results, you’ll want to look for a qualified provider with training, skills, and experience. Not sure where to begin? Don’t worry—we’ve got you covered! Keep reading below to learn more about what you should ask when choosing an orthodontist.
First things first: what is an orthodontist?
Here at Hamer & Glassick Orthodontics, we believe the best place to begin is with the basics. Although many people believe that dentists and orthodontists are interchangeable, there are actually some significant differences between the two. So what does an orthodontist do? In simple terms, an orthodontist is a dentist who has had several extra years of education and training. These focus primarily on identifying, preventing, and correcting misaligned teeth and jaws.
Until dental school is complete, dentists and orthodontists tend to follow the same path. After graduation, many dentists will head out into the field. However, orthodontists must complete at least two years in an orthodontic residency program that’s been accredited by the American Dental Association. These highly competitive programs usually accept only the top students in any graduating class! They include intensive full-time training on how to safely and effectively diagnose and correct various orthodontic issues by
- studying how the teeth and jaw grow
- being introduced to several different case studies
- developing diagnostic skills
- learning specific techniques for moving the teeth
- studying how to change the development of the dental alveolar complex
- learning how to guide the facial growth of younger patients
As you can see, there’s an awful lot that goes into becoming an orthodontist! That’s something our orthodontists are familiar with, and it’s one of the first things you’ll want to ask about when looking for a provider.
What education and training does the orthodontist have?
When you choose Hamer & Glassick Orthodontics, you can be sure you’re trusting your smile to true specialists! Dr. Hamer graduated from the University of Virginia with a Bachelor of Arts, then earned his dental degree at the Medical College of Virginia Commonwealth University. He completed his Orthodontic Residency at Columbia University.
Dr. Glassick is a board-certified orthodontist who earned his Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry from Wake Forest University before receiving his Doctor of Dental Surgery from the University of North Carolina School of Dentistry. He then completed a Certificate in Orthodontics at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, where he served as Chief Resident and graduated with Distinction in Leadership Training. Dr. Glassick also taught dental school for 2 years in the Restorative and Surgical Department of the University of Colorado and served as Assistant Clinical Faculty at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
Phew! That’s an impressive amount of extra training and experience! No wonder less than 10% of dentists also choose to become orthodontists.
What treatment options does the orthodontist offer?
It’s important to find an orthodontic practice that can offer you a variety of affordable treatment options. We’re proud to offer the following as part of your customized treatment plan.
Traditional metal braces are the most commonly used orthodontic appliance. They’ve come a long way over the years! Brackets are typically made of a mix of high-grade stainless steel, nickel, and other durable metals. These are attached directly to the front surface of the teeth. There is also a springy metal wire that runs through the brackets and is fixed to them using flexible elastics, metal ties, or another type of clasp. All of these components come together to gently guide your teeth into the desired positions over time.
Sometimes called ceramic braces, these function in the same way metal braces do, but use clear materials instead of stainless steel. Because they are less visible than traditional braces, they’re very popular with older teens and adult patients who may be more image-conscious! They do tend to be larger and more brittle than their metal counterparts, so we use them on the upper front teeth more often than the lower teeth.
The Invisalign system is made up of a series of customized aligners that are nearly invisible and completely removable. Unlike traditional braces, no brackets and wires are needed to move the teeth. This offers patients an extra measure of freedom and flexibility during the treatment process!
There are no food restrictions with Invisalign and oral hygiene is simple. The aligners can also be removed for short periods, so you can let your natural smile shine through on special occasions like weddings, prom, or senior pictures.
Invisalign aligners must be worn for 20-22 hours each day to move the teeth into the desired positions. Each aligner will also need to be switched out for the next in the set every 1-2 weeks to keep up with the movements the teeth are making. Failure to follow these guidelines can affect the final results.
All of these options can be excellent solutions for improving oral health, but every case is unique. What works for one patient may not be a good fit for another, which is why Dr. Hamer and Dr. Glassick take the time to create personalized treatment plans for every patient based on their specific needs and goals!
How often are follow-up visits with the orthodontist?
Whatever treatment option you choose, you can expect regular follow-up appointments at our Charlottesville or Crozet offices. We’ll schedule most patients for these visits every 4-8 weeks or so.
During the appointment, your doctor will check the progress your teeth are making. If you wear braces, they will also replace any worn-out rubber bands and make adjustments as needed. Invisalign patients may be seen slightly less frequently, but these appointments are still an essential part of the orthodontic process, so you don’t want to miss them!
While treatment time will always vary from case to case, the average patient will spend anywhere from 12-36 months in treatment. You’ll be seeing your orthodontist often, which is why it’s essential to find a practice you feel comfortable with. Our team is committed to providing patients with expert care in a welcoming environment! We also value your time, so we don’t overbook patients and always aim to see you at your scheduled time.
Find your best smile at Hamer & Glassick Orthodontics
Choosing an orthodontist is a big decision, and we know it’s not one you take lightly! Our experienced orthodontists have the education, skills, and training to give you a beautiful smile with long-lasting results you’ll love. There’s never been a better time to take the first step towards improved oral health, so get in touch today to schedule your FREE consultation with Dr. Glassick or Dr. Hamer!