3 Questions To Ask When Choosing An Orthodontist

Your new smile journey begins with an understanding of what to expect from the orthodontic process at Central Virginia Orthodontics. We believe that you should feel respected, informed, and empowered every step of the way. Choosing to improve your oral health with orthodontic treatment is a big decision, after all, and you shouldn’t trust something as important as your smile to anything less than an experienced orthodontist. We’re here to help you by walking through 3 questions to ask when choosing an orthodontist. These crucial questions will help you make an informed decision about your care. 

Is the doctor a trained orthodontic specialist?

This may seem obvious, but it’s never safe to assume! This is an important question to ask when you’re thinking about starting treatment with braces or Invisalign clear aligners. That’s because some general dentists are also able to provide orthodontic treatment, even though they don’t specialize in it. 

General dentists focus on standard dental services like crowns, fillings, dentures, and occasionally, orthodontic treatment like Invisalign. But this limited experience typically doesn’t compare to that of an orthodontist who spends every day providing orthodontic services. 

This is very important! Imagine for a moment that you or your child required specialized treatment or surgery. We bet you wouldn’t feel very comfortable with your family physician handling your care. Wouldn’t you prefer a 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

In case you don’t know, orthodontic residency programs are very competitive. They only accept the top students from any dental school graduating class. Orthodontic programs last around 2-3 years and include full-time training on correcting a wide variety of 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. Baugher and Dr. Claiborne have many years of education and experience between them. 

Dr. Baugher has practiced orthodontics since 2004 and is excited to be in Lynchburg. He earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in physics before graduating from the University of Kentucky College of Dentistry in 1999. He completed a General Practice Residency in Portsmouth, VA, while serving as an active-duty dentist in the US Navy. He then spent two years working with the Marines of Camp Lejeune, NC.

Dr. Claiborne has been practicing orthodontics since 2006 and is board-certified by the American Board of Orthodontics. Dr. Claiborne earned her Bachelor of Science degree from the College of William and Mary. She then graduated magna cum laude from the Medical College of Virginia School of Dentistry. She completed her orthodontic residency and post-doctoral master’s degree in clinical dentistry at the University of Alabama-Birmingham.

3 Questions To Ask When Choosing An Orthodontist

What treatment options does the orthodontist offer?

Central Virginia Orthodontics is proud to offer the following treatment options to patients of all ages. 

Metal braces

Traditional metal braces are still the most widely used orthodontic appliance, and have come a long way in recent years! They are 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.

Clear braces

Sometimes called ceramic braces, these function in the same way metal braces do, but are made of clear materials instead of stainless steel. Because they are less visible than traditional braces, they’re popular with older teens and adult patients who may be more image-conscious. They are 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 unique, made to order aligners that are nearly invisible and completely removable. Unlike traditional braces, no brackets and wires are needed to move the teeth! This gives you more 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.

How frequent are follow-up visits with the orthodontist?

You’ll see your orthodontist pretty regularly regardless of what kind of treatment your choose. Braces patients typically come in for adjustment appointments every 4-8 weeks or so. During these visits, Dr. Baugher or Dr. Claiborne 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. 

If you choose Invisalign treatment, you’ll be seen a little less often, but these appointments are still an essential part of the orthodontic process, so try not to miss them! 

While treatment time will always vary from case to case, on average, you’ll spend anywhere from 12-36 months years in treatment. You’ll be seeing us pretty often throughout your orthodontic journey! Since we know how busy today’s families are, we do our best to never overbook patients and always aim to see you at your scheduled time.

3 Questions To Ask When Choosing An Orthodontist

Put your smile in the best hands with Central Virginia Orthodontics

Look no further than Central Virginia Orthodontics for the best in high-quality care! Our doctors have the education, skills, and experience to give you the best smile possible that will last a lifetime. 

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. This is the perfect time to take the first step towards improved oral health, so get in touch today to schedule your FREE consultation with us!