We want our Jennings Orthodontics patients to feel informed and empowered along every step of their smile transformation, from the first visit 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 three questions to ask when choosing an orthodontist if you’re considering treatment with them.
Keep reading below as we 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 with 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 biomechanical 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 two to three 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. Carrie Jennings Southworth studied at Hanover College in Indiana where she earned her undergraduate degree. From there, she went on to graduate from the University of Kentucky College of Dentistry with honors before spending an additional two years at the St. Louis University Center for Advanced Dental Education.
By the time she completed that program, Dr. Jennings had also finished a fellowship in cleft palate and craniofacial anomalies and earned a Master’s degree in dentistry with a focus in orthodontics.
Dr. Jennings is committed to being a life-long learner and, as such, maintains active membership in several professional organizations to remain at the forefront of orthodontic treatments and technology.
Dr. Jennings is an active member of the following professional organizations:
- American Association of Orthodontists
- American Dental Association
- Kentucky Association of Orthodontists, Past President
- Kentucky Dental Association
- Kentucky Association of Women Dentists
- Louisville Dental Society
- Omicron Kappa Upsilon honor society
- Southern Association of Orthodontists
What treatment options does the orthodontist offer?
Jennings Orthodontics is proud to offer a wide variety of treatment options to patients of all ages in Louisville, Mt. Washington, 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.
At Jennings Orthodontics, we also offer rhodium metal brackets. These work the same way as traditional brackets, but they come in either white metal or a matte finish to provide a more esthetic appearance. These are great for patients who want to go the traditional route with a more subtle style.
Also known as ceramic braces, clear braces function in the same way as metal braces but are made of clear materials instead of stainless steel. Since they’re more discreet than traditional braces, these are very popular with older teens and adult patients who may be more image-conscious. They are slightly 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 Dr. Jennings 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 Dr. Jennings, you can expect relatively frequent visits to one of our conveniently located offices. For most patients, adjustment appointments will be scheduled for every 4-8 weeks or so. During these visits, Dr. Jennings 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. Jennings has the education, skills, and expertise necessary to create a beautiful smile 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 Dr. Jennings!