3 Questions To Ask When Choosing An Orthodontist

We want our Champlain Orthodontics patients to feel empowered and informed about their orthodontic journey, every step of the way. Choosing to improve your oral health through orthodontic treatment is a big decision because your smile is such a big part of who you are. You shouldn’t trust it to anyone without doing the necessary research. If you’re not sure where to start, here are 3 questions to ask when choosing an orthodontist. These essential questions will help you make an informed decision regarding your care. Let’s take a closer look at what you should know before committing to a particular practice!

Is the doctor a trained orthodontic specialist?

Did you know that this is actually the most important question to ask before starting braces or clear aligner treatment, even though it seems obvious? Some general dentists can provide basic orthodontic care, even though they don’t specialize in it. This means you might get inconsistent care. 

Most of the time, a general dentist offers common dental care such as crowns, fillings, dentures, or simple orthodontic treatment with Invisalign. An orthodontist, on the other hand, spends their days providing only orthodontic services.

This is pretty important. 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

To give you an idea of how competitive orthodontic residency programs are, 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. Daniel J. Ryan attended St. John Fisher College in Rochester, NY. and received his Bachelor of Science degree in Biology. Dan attended the University of New York at Buffalo Dental School and received his Doctor of Dental Surgery. He was the president of the American Student Dental Association and was inducted into the OKU Dental Society. Dr. Ryan continued his training at SUNY at Buffalo and earned his Certificate of Orthodontics and Masters of Science. Dr. Ryan is also board-certified as a Diplomate of the American Board of Orthodontists.

A native of Colchester, Vermont, Dr. Elissa A. Eaton attended Lehigh University in Pennsylvania and was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa honor society. She received her dental degree at the University of Connecticut, where she received several awards, including the Alpha Omega Fraternity Award and the American Association of Orthodontists Award. Dr. Eaton completed her specialty training in orthodontics and her Masters of Science at SUNY at Buffalo.

3 Questions To Ask When Choosing An Orthodontist

What treatment options does the orthodontist offer?

Champlain Orthodontics has a wide variety of treatment options available to patients of all ages in Williston, St. Albans, and the surrounding communities. 

Metal braces

Traditional metal braces are still the most widely used orthodontic appliance, and have come a long way in recent years! They’re made of a mix of high-grade stainless steel, nickel, and other durable metals. Metal brackets are attached to your teeth, and a wire runs through them and holds the necessary tension. This wire can 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.

Clear braces

These function in the same way metal braces do but are made of clear ceramic materials instead of stainless steel. That’s why they’re sometimes called ceramic braces. Because they are less visible than traditional braces, they’re popular with older teens and adult patients who are more concerned with how they may look in important situations. They’re 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 aligners made just for you that are removable and nearly invisible. Unlike traditional braces, this system doesn’t use brackets or wires to move your teeth. This means you’ll have more flexibility and freedom than with traditional braces. 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.

How frequent are follow-up visits with the orthodontist?

No matter what treatment option you choose, you’ll be seeing Dr. Ryan or Dr. Eaton relatively frequently. For most patients, adjustment appointments will be scheduled every 4-8 weeks or so. During these visits, Dr. Ryan or Dr. Eaton will replace any worn-out rubber bands or other attachments you may be using. They’ll also check the progress your teeth are making, and make adjustments to the wires to ensure that the teeth are moving in the right direction. 

With Invisalign, you’ll be seeing us less often. 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, you can expect to spend 12-36 months in treatment, based on the average. We know how busy today’s families are, so we never overbook patients and always aim to see you at your scheduled time to make the whole experience as stress free as possible. 

3 Questions To Ask When Choosing An Orthodontist

Don’t trust your smile to anything less than the best!

Dr. Ryan and Dr. Eaton have 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. Ryan or Dr. Eaton!