Find an Orthodontist

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Whether you’re considering clear aligners or traditional braces, an orthodontist has the training, experience and treatment options to make sure you get your best smile.

What’s the Difference Between a Dentist and an Orthodontist?

A dentist is similar to your family doctor - great for check-ups and filling cavities. An orthodontist is a specialist who has two to three years of additional education, and is an expert in straightening your teeth and choosing the treament option that’s best for you.

Consumer Alert

Consumers Cautioned about "DIY" Orthodontic Treatment

The American Association of Orthodontists is urging consumers to beware of Internet videos and websites which encourage people to try and straighten their own teeth. Moving teeth is a medical procedure and needs personal supervision by an orthodontist. Please be wary of any suggestions to move teeth with rubber bands, dental floss, or other objects ordered on the Internet. Moving teeth without a thorough examination of the overall health of the teeth and gums could result in the permanent loss of teeth, which may result in expensive and lifelong dental problems. Orthodontists receive two to three years of specialized education beyond dental school and are specialists in straightening teeth and aligning the bite.

View a public service announcement.

Understanding Your Options

There are a lot of treatment options these days, from retainers to clear aligners to invisible, metal, ceramic and micro braces. They each have their uses. Orthodontists have the specialized knowledge to consider all possibilities, based on variables like your age, possible jaw imbalances, differences in the size of your teeth, and more. They know what to use and when to use it, and will work with you to make the best decision - for your best smile.
Braces
Clear Aligners
Elastics
Retainers
Headgear
Other Devices
Archwires
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Traditional Braces

Traditional braces are comprised of brackets that are affixed to teeth and wires that are threaded through slots in the brackets.  Some patients may also have metal bands encircling back teeth.  Wires are held to brackets by tiny rubber bands called “ligatures” or “o-rings.”  Brackets are generally made of stainless steel.  Wires are made of metal alloys and deliver a constant, gentle force to move teeth.

See your orthodontic specialist for the treatment option that is best for your individual needs.

Traditional Ceramic Braces

Traditional ceramic braces are tooth-colored, making them next-to-invisible. They are affixed to teeth, and wires are threaded through slots in the brackets. Wires are held to brackets by tiny rubber bands called “ligatures” or “o-rings.” Brackets are made of ceramic or porcelain materials. Wires are made of metal alloys and deliver a constant, gentle force to move teeth.

See your orthodontic specialist for the treatment option that is best for your individual needs.

Self-Ligating Ceramic Braces

Self-ligating ceramic braces are tooth-colored, making them next-to-invisible.  They are affixed to teeth, and wires are threaded through slots in the brackets.  Built-in clips hold the wires to the brackets.  Brackets are made of ceramic or porcelain materials.  Wires are made of metal alloys and deliver a constant, gentle force to move teeth.

See your orthodontic specialist for the treatment option that is best for your individual needs.

Self-Ligating Metal Braces

Self-ligating metal braces are comprised of brackets that are affixed to teeth and wires that are threaded through slots in the brackets.  Some patients may also have metal bands encircling back teeth.  Built-in clips hold the wires to the brackets.  Metal brackets are generally made of stainless steel.  Wires are made of metal alloys and deliver a constant, gentle force to move teeth.

See your orthodontic specialist for the treatment option that is best for your individual needs.

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Clear Aligners

Aligners are clear, thin, plastic-like trays that are formed to fit an individual’s teeth. Patients are responsible for putting in and removing their aligners. A series of aligners is created to move teeth. Each aligner is worn for 2-3 weeks, and moves teeth a fraction of a millimeter at a time. Patients must remove aligners for meals and when brushing/flossing. The number of aligners needed to correct misaligned teeth varies based on the individual’s orthodontic problem and its correction.

See your orthodontic specialist for the treatment option that is best for your individual needs.

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Elastics

Elastics are tiny rubber bands that apply extra force to a tooth or teeth in ways that braces alone cannot, so that teeth move into their ideal positions. Tiny hooks on selected upper and lower brackets as used as attachment points.  The configuration of the elastics can be vertical or diagonal, depending on the individual’s need.  Patients are responsible for placing and removing their elastics.  Elastics should be worn as prescribed by the orthodontist. Do not wear more elastics than prescribed. Doing so places excessive force on the teeth and can be harmful.

See your orthodontic specialist for the treatment option that is best for your individual needs.

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Clear Retainers

removable retainers are clear, thin, slightly flexible, and made of a plastic-like material. They fit the exact shape and placement of the teeth.

Not only are there removable retainers, but there are also fixed retainers. Both types of retainers hold teeth in their new positions after “active” orthodontic treatment is completed. This allows newly formed bone to harden around the teeth. Wearing retainers as instructed is the key to maintaining the success of orthodontic treatment. Patients may be advised to wear retainers full-time for the first six months after “active” treatment ends, with subsequent wear time reduced to night-time only. When not in the mouth, removable retainers should be kept in the case provided by the orthodontist.

See your orthodontic specialist for the treatment option that is best for your individual needs.

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Headgear

Headgear is a general name for a type of removable appliance that creates external forces that guide the growth of the face and jaws, and supplements forces created by archwires on braces. Headgear can be used to prevent teeth from moving or to inhibit the growth of a jaw. Headgear delivers measured amounts of force in specific directions to achieve optimal results. Headgear works only when it is worn by the patient as prescribed by the orthodontist.

See your orthodontic specialist for the treatment option that is best for your individual needs.

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Mouthguard

A mouth guard is used by athletes of all ages to protect teeth from trauma during competitive and individual sporting activities. They are made of a variety of materials, some relatively flexible and others relatively rigid. Custom-made mouth guards deliver the greatest protection. Over-the-counter mouth guards are available in “boil and bite” versions, which are formed to the individual’s mouth, and “ready to wear” versions, which cannot be customized and offer the least protection. The American Association of Orthodontists advocates the use of mouth guards by children and adults during organized and recreational sporting activities.

See your orthodontic specialist for the treatment option that is best for your individual needs.

Sleep Apnea Appliance

A sleep apnea appliance is a custom-made device that slips over top and bottom teeth to help patients who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea and/or who snore keep their airways open when they sleep. They hold the lower jaw slightly open and slightly forward.

See your orthodontic specialist for the treatment option that is best for your individual needs.

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Round Archwires

When viewed in cross-section, the shape of the wire is round. Round archwires are often used in earlier stages of orthodontic treatment to level and align teeth. Archwires fit into the slots in brackets and actually move the teeth.

See your orthodontic specialist for the treatment option that is best for your individual needs.

Rectangular Archwires

When viewed in cross-section, the shape of a rectangular archwire is rectangular – square on both ends with a long segment in between.  Rectangular archwires are often used in later stages of orthodontic treatment to control and refine tooth movement.  Archwires fit into the slots in brackets and actually move the teeth.

See your orthodontic specialist for the treatment option that is best for your individual needs.

What Makes Me Smile?

Sarah S.

My Orthodontist makes me smile. He gave me a smile that will last a lifetime. 

Dr. Paul Melnik
St. Louis, MO

McKenzie & Kayla J.

Our braces make us smile!

Dr. Damon DeArment and Dr. Daniel Lill
Winchester, VA

Roxanne & Lorelai P.

Making our smiles even more beautiful.

Dr. Bradley Pierson
San Antonio, TX

Cinnia R.

My boyfriend Nick!

Dr. Jim Klarsch
Town and Country, MO

Sesha B.

My patients make me smile.

Dr. Troy Gor
Houston, Texas

Sergio H.

My awesome straight teeth make me smile.

Dr. Troy Gor
Houston, Texas

Emalee F.

Dance makes me smile.

Dr. Richard Talbot
Citrus Heights, CA

Max W.

Funny things make me smile!

Dr. Glenn Glassman
Maryland Heights MO

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Adult Hall of Fame

This group of professionals opted to achieve a healthy, beautiful smile as adults. Learn more about their stories and treatment here.

View All The Hall of Famers
Amy Gepner
Rosemary Haber
Dr. Ron Smith
Dr. Nina Zeigler
Sarah Bryan Miller
Rene' Howard
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Amy Gepner

When Amy Gepner’s autistic teenage son Adam was advised to get orthodontic treatment, she naturally wanted to support him throughout the process.  And while Adam was unsure of how it would affect his daily life, Amy was committed to making sure he had an excellent experience and outcome. At the time, Amy already had a great smile, but had always wanted to make a few ‘tweaks’ to bring it closer to an ideal alignment.

It was the combination of Adam’s impending treatment and her own desire to adjust her smile that made the decision unanimous: Amy and Adam would go into treatment together.  The two began treatment simultaneously in July of 2011. And for close to two years they were in it together.

“While I had wanted to improve my smile for several years, my first priority was to go through the process with Adam so that I could relate to what he was experiencing,” Amy says. “I wanted to answer his questions from my own experience and be able to reassure him that everything would work out well.”

A busy media salesperson in Wichita, KS and mom of two sons, Amy’s schedule is ever-changing and she was concerned about Adam missing too much school while in treatment.  But her concern was soon set to rest as she learned that Adam would only need a visit about every six weeks. “Dr. Dillehay’s staff was incredibly accommodating. They made both of our appointments together and usually at 7am so it didn’t interfere with our day.”

Amy couldn’t have been more pleased with the results for both her and Adam. She credits their two beautiful smiles to the care of Dr. Dillehay and his staff, a team which she says treated her and Adam like family, providing them “with all the TLC we both needed.”

Amy in particular faced the challenge of wearing orthodontics in a profession that requires a lot of face-to-face contact with her clients. While she admits later-life orthodontic treatment had its challenges, she felt Dr. Dillehay’s staff was a source of encouragement to find a positive attitude and focus on the big picture. “You only get one chance to make a first impression,” she says. “I’m much more confident in front of clients. And Adam’s smile makes a strong statement when he’s meeting with potential employers. It’s all good.”

Dr. Ken Dillehay treated the Gepner duo and nominated Amy to the Hall of Fame: “I was so impressed at the extra effort that Amy employed at ensuring that her son had a healthy, beautiful smile and positive orthodontic experience. In my book, she deserves the ‘mom-of-the-year’ award.”

Treated by Dr. Ken Dillehay, Wichita, KS
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Rosemary Haber

A lot can change in 50 years: advances in technology, new trends in music, and even the quality of a smile.

Rosemary Murdy-Haber knows this all too well. She’s a college professor, a scholar of music and a second-time orthodontic patient.

"My sister, brother, and I all had braces when we were in junior high school and wore them for two years," she says. "Over time, our bites changed and our teeth went out of alignment. My sister was the one who wanted to straighten her teeth for her daughter’s wedding and I looked at my teeth and decided to do the same."

It has been 50 years since Rosemary’s last visit to the orthodontist. It didn’t take long to notice a remarkably improved appointment experience. She was impressed with the spacious procedure room with six workstations, each overlooking a beautiful view of the outdoors. See appreciated the skillful setup of the office. The technicians, digital scanners, and computers with patient information were all easily accessible, which made for a prompt and efficient appointment every time– perfect for a professional on the go.

But, mostly, she found treatment to be much more comfortable. "It was extremely painful in those days…so much that I could not eat anything except ice cream, mashed potatoes, and oatmeal," she recalls. "This was not the case when I had Dr. McGill's office apply the braces. I was advised to take Advil if I had discomfort but I didn't need it and (was able to eat) regular food."

After 16 months of orthodontic treatment, from age 60 to 61, Rosemary beams with a newfound poise. "I feel much more confident with my new healthy, beautiful smile (and even perfect bite) in photographs. People comment on how white and straight my teeth are now and ask why I got braces at my age. My answer was always the same… 'Straight white teeth are essential for today’s world. When you smile, you brighten other peoples' day. In return, the confidence you exude makes the world a more positive place to be...especially when people are around you.'"

Rosemary's advice to adults considering orthodontic treatment? "JUST DO IT! Who wouldn't want to look and feel their best? I would do it again."

Treated by Dr. Jean McGill, Easton, PA
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Dr. Ron Smith

“Now that 80 is the new 60, it felt right to get orthodontic treatment later in life, ” says Dr. Ron Smith, a materials engineering business owner in Lansdale, PA. “ I'm planning on living to at least 100, and now I'll have a nice smile all the way through. ”

Plus, Dr. Smith likes to joke that in old age, “ teeth can begin to sag along with many other parts. “ It was the shifting of teeth in hisupper jaw that sent him to the orthodontist.

Like many adult orthodontic patients, Dr. Smith sought treatment later in life because he missed out on the opportunity in his childhood. So now as an engineering business owner, Dr. Smith made the choice to invest in his smile. He looked forward to important milestones ahead of him; in particular, he wanted to be able to smile with confidence for his daughter’s wedding photos.

And, he’s planning on living forty more years.

Dr. Smith’s orthodontist encouraged treatment after a consultation, and he began treatment at the age of 58. The process lasted a little over two years. Just recently, Dr. Smith completed treatment and many are commenting on how young he looks with his new smile.

“I wanted to look more youthful and behave more youthfully. Orthodontic treatment has inspired me to be more to take better care of myself in other ways, too, like exercising more. I would certainly encourage other adults to consider it!”

Treated by Dr. Jean McGill, Easton, PA
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Dr. Nina Zeigler

With a sparkling smile already in place, dentist Dr. Nina Zeigler‘s patients were puzzled when she began orthodontic treatment at age 43. “A lot of my patients asked me why I was in treatment, especially since my teeth were straight and appeared to be in alignment,” she says. What couldn’t be seen on the outside was a severe clenching and grinding problem. Dr. Zeigler also had an anterior open bite which is when the upper and lower front teeth don’t overlap vertically. People with this condition often find it difficult to eat certain foods.

“Many people think orthodontic treatment is for aesthetic reasons, when in reality for most patients, it is necessary to treat problems with the teeth, bite or jaw,” Dr. Zeigler explains. “When I had an exam by my orthodontist, he knew right away that I needed braces.” In treatment for 17 months, making it to her regular appointments was easy, as she and her orthodontist’s offices are located in the same medical building.

As a dentist, brushing her teeth was always a priority, and Dr. Zeigler’s extra vigilance during treatment had an impact on her habit of snacking. “I like snacks, but realizing I had to brush each and every time I indulged made me think twice.” Knowing she may give in to temptation every now and then, Dr. Zeigler kept a stash of toothbrushes handy. “I had them in my purse, my glove box, my briefcase, you name it. When we went out to eat I would excuse myself and head to the ladies room to brush my teeth.”

During an appointment in the final phase of her orthodontic treatment, Dr. Zeigler shared the exciting news with her orthodontist that she and her husband were headed out of town to adopt a baby.  “He was elated, and since my treatment was finished, he took my braces off immediately, insisting that I have a braces-free smile for all of the pictures and celebrating we would soon be doing with our new daughter.”  Five years later, when little Heidi heads to work with her mom, she often goes down the hall to visit the orthodontist. When asked if she had a message for adults in treatment, Dr. Zeigler had a quick response. “Yes, if you want your braces off early, just tell your orthodontist you’re going to adopt a baby.”

Treated by Dr. James Klarsch, Town and Country, MO
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Sarah Bryan Miller

When former opera singer Sarah Bryan Miller thinks back on her singing career at Lyric Opera of Chicago and other companies, the conversation comes back to braces. “When you're a singer, your body is your instrument,” says Miller, “and the inside of the mouth is an important part of that.”

Miller sought out orthodontic treatment in her mid-thirties. A troublesome overbite and small jaw began to cause issues in her professional life. As with any wind instrument, the shape of the mouth affects the quality of the sound. And, as in any entertainment field, appearances matter on the opera stage.

On the day she got her brackets on, she performed in the opera "Die Fledermaus.” Miller recalls: “That is when I realized exactly how much we move our upper lips when singing. It was...ah... uncomfortable - but I kept smiling, and kept singing. There were times during the process when it was less than optimal, but it never kept me from working.”

Although her treatment took longer than anticipated due to a few broken brackets, Miller strongly encourages other adults considering braces. She says her teeth are healthier. She says she looks and feels better. “Don't worry about looking silly - you have lots of company - and don't worry about how old you'll be when you're done with it. You'll be that old by then anyway, and this way you'll have something extra to show for it.”

While Miller no longer performs on stage, she is now the classical music critic at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. It’s a job that keeps her connected to her passion for music and that’s something to smile about.

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Rene' Howard

In a profession that is heavy in patient interactions, you could say that Rene’ Howard is the face of the pharmacy where she works. As a retail pharmacist in Atlanta, Rene’ spends her time at work explaining medications to patients, answering questions and solving problems with her team. It’s a job that requires personal engagement and a reassuring smile.

That’s why after recently completing orthodontic treatment in her early 50’s, Howard’s perfected smile is even more of a boost in her confidence at work. 

But it wasn’t always that way. She went through orthodontic treatment in middle school to correct misaligned teeth. By the time her sons were ready to begin orthodontic treatment – more than 35 years later – Howard’s teeth had shifted. They weren’t only crooked, they were distracting. When her orthodontist offered her the option of correcting her bottom row of teeth or her both top and bottom rows, she opted for a traditional treatment plan.  “If we’re going to do this, let’s do it right,” she said.  After seeing her kids go through treatment, Rene’ realized her time had come too.  

Howard completed her treatment in October of 2013. She says she is delighted with the results, and laughingly notes “I’m committed to avoiding a third round of treatment!”  Her story piqued the interest of a writer at the Atlanta Journal Constitution, who featured Rene’ in a story on the increasing popularity of adult orthodontics.  

Treated by Dr. Mark Johnston, Marietta, GA

Frequently Asked Questions

Read our frequently asked questions to find the answers you're looking for.

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Donated Orthodontic Services (DOS)

The American Association of Orthodontists Donated Orthodontic Services Program (DOS) provides access to orthodontic care to low income children who lack insurance coverage or who do not qualify for other assistance in their states of residence. Since being formed in 2009, nearly 500 children have completed treatment, and nearly 500 are currently being treated. Applicants must meet financial need requirements. Those accepted for the DOS program are expected to comply with treatment requirements including keeping scheduled appointments, good home oral hygiene care, and keep appointments for regular dental check-ups and cleanings during orthodontic treatment.
Review eligibility requirements and program patient rules, and complete the application here.

Download Application

Email the completed form to:
dos@dentallifeline.org

Fax the completed form to:
(303) 534-5290

Or, mail the completed form to:
Donated Orthodontic Services
1800 15th Street, Suite 100
Denver, CO 80202

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Smile Stories

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Todd

Michelle

Lester

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Legacy

Relationships

Life With Braces

Brushing and Flossing While Having Braces

Braces are Far More Attractive than Crooked Teeth

Braces are Affordable and Convenient

Everyone Deserves Straight Teeth and a Beautiful Smile

Retainers Prevent Your Teeth from Becoming Crooked Again

What to Eat when You Have Braces

Why Orthodontics?

Everyone wants a great smile, and your orthodontist is a specialist in making your smile the best it can be. Straight teeth not only look good, they also give you a good bite. Your upper and lower teeth fit together the way they should, so it's easier to bite, chew and speak.

A great smile helps you feel better and more confident. It can literally change how people see you - at work and in your personal life. To see how much better your smile can be, consider asking these questions , and then find an orthodontist near you.

Educational Materials

7 Reasons Why You Should Get Orthodontic Treatment

Positive Aging Through Orthodontics

Orthodontics can help patients of any age look better throughout their entire lives. If you're ready to witness the life-changing effects of orthodontic treatment, simply click the link below.

See the Transformations

Orthodontics in the News

Smiling Makes You Look Younger, Thinner
KMOX Radio
Adults Seeking That Perfect Smile
WINK-TV
Getting the right orthodontic start
WEAU-TV
AAO, ADA urge Sports Players to Use Mouth Guards
Orthodontic Products
Avoid dental trauma, pick the right mouth guard
WSAW-TV
Press Room