At About Faces and Braces, we want our patients to feel informed and empowered at every visit, from the first until the last. We know that choosing to improve your oral health with orthodontic treatment is a big decision, and since you only get one smile, you shouldn’t trust it to anyone other than an experienced orthodontist! But what if you’re not sure how to go about finding one?
To help get you started on your orthodontic journey, our talented team has put together this list of what to ask when choosing an orthodontist for your treatment. Let’s take a closer look at what you should know before committing to a particular practice!
Is the doctor a trained orthodontic specialist?
This is actually the most important question you can ask when exploring braces treatment or clear aligner therapy like Invisalign. That’s because some general dentists can provide orthodontic treatment, even though they don’t specialize in it.
Typically, a general dentist will offer common dental services such as crowns, fillings, dentures, and occasional orthodontic treatment Invisalign or similar clear aligner therapy. An orthodontist, on the other hand, spends their days providing only orthodontic services.
This distinction actually matters a great deal. Imagine for a moment that you or your child required specialized treatment or surgery. Would you feel comfortable with your family physician handling your case, or would you prefer a dedicated specialist?
Orthodontists are essentially dentists who also have several years of additional specialized training and experience. This means an orthodontist has:
- Studied the growth and maturation of the teeth and jaw
- Been introduced to numerous case studies
- Developed diagnostic skills
- Learned bio-mechanical techniques to properly move teeth
- Studied how to change the development of the dental alveolar complex and facial growth of younger patients
Orthodontic residency programs are extremely competitive. They only accept the top students in any dental school graduating class! These orthodontic programs last around 2-3 years and include full-time training that focuses on correcting orthodontic issues with braces and aligners. While there are exceptions to every rule, most dentists won’t possess this same level of exhaustive orthodontic training and experience.
Dr. Shawn Lehman-Grimes is a graduate of Montgomery Bell Academy, Emory University, and the University of Tennessee College of Dentistry. Dr. Shawn, as he’s known to his patients, is focused on providing patients of all ages with high-quality orthodontic care. He stays up-to-date with the latest techniques and technology and is an active member of the following professional organizations:
- 8th District Dental Society, former president
- American Association of Orthodontists Council of Insurance (COI), past representative
- American Association of Orthodontists Insurance Company (AAOIC), current director
- Tennessee Association of Orthodontics (TAO), past president
Dr. Candice Coleman attended Linfield College before going on to earn her Doctor of Dental Surgery from the University of Tennessee College of Dentistry, where she graduated in the top 10% of her class. Dr. Candice is committed to giving patients smiles they love with the latest in orthodontic techniques. She is an active member of multiple professional associations and has held various leadership positions within the 8th District Dental Society and the American Association of Orthodontics.
What treatment options does the orthodontist offer?
About Faces and Braces has a wide variety of treatment options available to patients of all ages in Nashville, Clarksville, Springfield, and the surrounding communities.
Traditional metal braces are still the most widely used orthodontic appliance, and have come a long way in recent years! They’re typically made of a mix of high-grade stainless steel, nickel, and other durable metals. Bands wrap around the back molars, and smaller metal brackets are cemented to the front surfaces of the other teeth. There is also a thin, springy metal wire that runs through the brackets, which may be fixed to the brackets by 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 are made of clear materials instead of stainless steel. Because they’re more discreet than traditional braces, they’re popular with older teens and adult patients who may be more image-conscious. They are larger and more brittle than their metal counterparts, so we tend to 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 a measure of freedom and flexibility that traditional braces just can’t beat. Designed to fit snugly but comfortably over your own teeth, Invisalign provides a more subtle and comfortable orthodontic experience. When worn the recommended 20-22 hours per day, and changed out weekly with the next in the set, these aligners will gradually move your teeth into the desired positions.
Although Invisalign and Invisalign Teen work the same way when it comes to the underlying technology, Invisalign Teen was developed with the unique needs of teen patients in mind. There are a few special features that are specific to the Invisalign Teen system, including the following:
To help teens stick to their treatment plan, Invisalign Teen has a compliance indicator incorporated into each aligner. This will fade from blue to clear as it is used, providing a visual approximation of wear. This lets patients, parents, and orthodontists keep track of patient use. If a teen is skipping out on hours, it will be noticeable in enough time for us to correct compliance, thus keeping the overall process moving along at the right pace.
This feature accommodates the growth of the second molars in young adults, helping to keep space open for un-erupted teeth and making it possible to treat a wider range of conditions with Invisalign.
We all lose or damage things from time to time. While we encourage all of our Invisalign patients to be careful with their aligners, teens don’t need to worry about misplacing or losing one. Invisalign Teen anticipates it happening, and provides up to six replacement aligners at no charge, just in case!
How frequent are follow-up visits with the orthodontist?
Whatever treatment option you choose with the doctors here at About Faces and Braces, you can expect relatively frequent visits to one of our conveniently located offices in Springfield, Nashville, or Clarksville. For most patients, adjustment appointments will be scheduled for every 4-8 weeks or so. During these visits, Dr. Candice or Dr. Shawn will replace any worn-out rubber bands, check the progress your teeth are making, and make adjustments to the wires to ensure that the teeth are moving in the right direction.
Invisalign patients won’t need to come in as 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 years in treatment. You’ll be seeing us often throughout your orthodontic journey! We know how busy today’s families are, so we never overbook patients and always aim to see you at your scheduled time.
Don’t trust your smile to anything less than the best!
If you’re looking for the best in high-quality orthodontic care, Dr. Candice and Dr. Shawn at About Faces and Braces have the education, skills, and expertise necessary to create beautiful smiles with long-lasting results.
If you’re ready to take the first step in your orthodontic journey, we would love to meet you and talk more about how we can help you achieve the smile you desire. 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 the team at About Faces and Braces!