Questions to Ask 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 your orthodontic team have your best interests in mind and at heart. 

Here at Szymanowski Orthodontics, we prioritize patient education 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 a no-brainer 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, the Szymanowski name has been well-known within the local dental community for more than 40 years. At Szymanowski Orthodontics, we’re a family, and we work as a unit to make sure patients receive top-quality care in a professional, comfortable environment. 

Questions to Ask When Choosing an Orthodontist

What treatment options does the orthodontist offer?

Most patients we treat choose 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, Szymanowski Orthodontics can successfully treat many dental issues based on your unique needs and goals using metal braces, clear braces, Invisalign, lingual braces, jaw surgery, facial growth treatment, and accelerated orthodontics, like mini implants and diode laser. 

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. And at Szymanowski Orthodontics, we use self-ligating braces. These eliminate the need for rubber bands and make your treatment more comfortable and effective. 

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 the clear adhesive used to attach them to your teeth is prone to staining depending on your eating and cleaning habits. 


Unlike traditional braces, Invisalign treatment doesn’t rely on a system of metal or ceramic brackets and wires. Instead, it comprises a 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 for them to be effective. 

Corrective Jaw Surgery

Corrective jaw surgery, or orthognathic surgery, treats abnormalities associated with facial bones, specifically your jaws and teeth. These abnormalities can interfere with your ability to talk, sleep, and enjoy your current lifestyle and even cause sleep apnea, snoring, and TMJ pain. When paired with orthodontic treatment, jaw surgery can correct these concerns and improve the overall appearance of your facial profile. Our doctor works with an oral and maxillofacial surgeon as a team to ensure that if you need surgical orthodontics, you will receive the best care possible.


Retention is how you maintain that smile you and Dr. Szymanowski have worked so hard to achieve. When your braces are removed, you will be given two retainers. The upper retainer is usually removable, and the lower retainer is usually “fixed” or glued to the inside of your front teeth. Dr. Szymanowski may prescribe a different retainer that fits your specific needs and will likely recommend wearing your retainers indefinitely. 


AcceleDent utilizes micropulse technology to speed up the orthodontic process. By placing the mouthpiece, which has been formed to fit around your existing orthodontics, in your mouth and turning on the activator for 20 minutes a day, you can speed up the process of getting a beautiful smile by up to 50%. This option drastically reduces total treatment time as well as the number of appointments you’ll have to attend at Szymanowski Orthodontics. 

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 for about 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 important. Questions to Ask When Choosing an Orthodontist

Trust your smile to the experts at Szymanowski Orthodontics

At Szymanowski Orthodontics, our team is committed to giving you a smile you’ve always wanted – and the one you deserve. We are the location for modern orthodontic treatment. Our office is conveniently located to serve the Sacramento area better, and this means excellent orthodontic care is only a few minutes from your home, school, or work. 

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!