1. Choosing by proximity as the top requirement: There are geographically underserved areas where choice is not necessarily an option due to the distance between dental providers, however in most areas there are multiple dentists within a suitable range. Choosing your dentist by ‘who is the closest’ could prove to be a mistake when considering quality of care. As the largest non-specialty orthodontic organization in the world, there is a good chance an International Association for Orthodontics (IAO) member is an option for you. Use the Find a Dentist search tool on the IAO website to locate the IAO member closest to you. 
  2. Underestimating the importance of choosing the right dentist: Many patients who search for a new dentist underestimate the importance that oral care has on their overall health. The positive effects of proper oral care go far beyond esthetics. According to the American Dental Association, periodontal diseases are linked to cardiovascular health, stroke, diabetes, and adverse pregnancy outcomes. It is critical to you and your family’s overall health that you find the best dental provider for your needs. 
  3. Understanding the services provided by the dentist you choose: Did you know that many general and pediatric dentists also provide orthodontic treatment as well? The International Association for Orthodontics was founded on this practice in 1961. There are several benefits to receiving orthodontic care from your dentist, including earlier detection of the need for orthodontic care. Early detection can lead to faster treatment and better results while also decreasing the cost of treatment. IAO members are mostly general and pediatric dentists who also provide high quality orthodontic treatment in their practices. To find the IAO members nearest to you, use the Find a Dentist search tool on the IAO website. 
  4. Not considering a dentist’s continuing education: Dentists are required to go through a rigorous education curriculum regardless of their choice of dental school. Each one is thoroughly prepared to properly treat patients upon graduation, however like in any other medical field, the standard practices of oral health care are continuously being updated. As such, it is critical that dentists attend continuing education courses after graduation.  Education is a core competency of the IAO, including the Professional Advancement credentialing process. Upon joining the association, each member is enrolled in the association’s Professional Advancement program, during which members provide the IAO with their Continuing Education (CE) credits and orthodontic cases to advance their membership status to higher levels. 
  5. Understanding your dental needs: As you may have gleaned from above, there is a great deal of variety in what services dental practices offer their patients. This is especially true when the practice also offers orthodontic care. Dental practices use different techniques, equipment, and technology to accomplish treatment goals, each of which offers distinct advantages and disadvantages to the patient. It is important that you understand these differences so that you can make an informed decision as to which dental provider will best meet your needs and expectations. You may want to consult an IAO Diplomate/Fellow, the most experienced members in the association, to better understand these options. You can also contact the IAO headquarters, https://iaortho.naynacodes.com/contact/, to find the right IAO provider in your area.