3 Questions To Ask When Choosing An Orthodontist

Making the decision to straighten your teeth and improve your oral health through orthodontic treatment is huge! You wouldn’t want to trust your teeth to anyone other than a trained orthodontic professional, but you may be unsure of just where to start. The team here at Rhoads Orthodontics has put together this list of 3 questions to ask when choosing an orthodontist to help take some of the guesswork out of the process! Keep reading below for a more detailed look at what you should know in order to make an informed decision before committing to a treatment plan. 

Are you seeing a trained orthodontic specialist?

While it may feel like an obvious question, this is probably the most important one you can ask when it comes to deciding on braces or clear aligner therapy! This is because some dentists are also able to provide some basic orthodontic treatment, even though they don’t specialize in it. A general dentist will typically offer common dental procedures such as crowns, fillings, dentures, and the occasional orthodontic treatment, like clear aligner therapy. An orthodontist, on the other hand, spends their time dedicated to only providing orthodontic services. 

This distinction matters. 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? Probably the latter! Orthodontists are dentists who have spent several years in additional specialized training and gaining experience in orthodontic treatment. That 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, so only the top students from any dental school’s graduating class are accepted. These orthodontic programs typically last from 2-3 years, including full-time training that focuses on correcting a wide variety of oral health issues using braces and aligners. While there are certainly exceptions to every rule, most dentists will not possess the same level of exhaustive orthodontic training and experience.

After completing a BA in Molecular Biology at the University of Pittsburgh, Dr. Rhoads attended the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine where she earned her Doctorate of Dental Medicine. She received her Master’s of Bioethics degree at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, then headed to the University of North Carolina School of Dentistry, where she was awarded a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study in Orthodontics and Master of Science in Dentistry. 

Dr. Stephanie Rhoads is also a board-certified diplomate of the American Board of Orthodontics, an achievement accomplished by only 33% of orthodontists. Dr. Rhoads is well-versed in the most cutting-edge orthodontic treatment and is actively involved in continuing education. She’s also a member of the following organizations:

  • American Association of Orthodontists
  • American Association of Women Dentists
  • American Board of Orthodontics
  • American Dental Association
  • Chamber of Commerce, Inc.
  • Great Lakes Association of Orthodontists
  • Omicron Kappa Upsilon, Dental Honor Society
  • Pennsylvania Association of Orthodontists
  • Western Pennsylvania Association of Orthodontists

Here at Rhoads Orthodontics, our only focus is your orthodontic care and treatment.

Dr. Stephanie Rhoads performs teeth-straightening procedures daily and our entire team stays up to date with the latest techniques and technology by attending continuing education courses. Our Cranberry Township office is equipped with the most current orthodontic equipment in order to give our patients the best possible experience. Dr. Rhoads is dedicated to providing you with individualized care for your unique needs!


What treatment options do you have available?

Dr. Rhoads is proud to offer a wide variety of orthodontic treatments to patients of all ages in Cranberry Township and surrounding communities, including traditional metal braces and clear aligner therapy with Invisalign. 

Metal braces

Traditional metal braces are still the most common method of orthodontic treatment, and they’ve 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 are wrapped 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.

Metal braces are an effective and affordable treatment option for any smile. They’re also more comfortable and customizable than ever before. With smaller, lighter brackets and a multitude of colored bands to choose from, metal braces are a perfect fit for every personality!


The Invisalign system is made up of a series of customized clear aligners that are nearly invisible and completely removable. Unlike traditional braces, no brackets and wires are needed to move the teeth! This gives patients a new measure of freedom and flexibility that traditional braces just can’t compare to. Designed to fit snugly but comfortably over your own teeth, Invisalign provides a more discreet 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.

Invisalign Teen

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:

Compliance indicators

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 orthodontists 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 according to the treatment plan developed by Dr. Rhoads.

Eruption tabs

This feature accommodates the growth of the second molars in young adults, helping to keep space open for unerupted teeth and making it possible to treat a wider range of conditions with Invisalign.

Replacement aligners

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 stress about misplacing or losing one. Invisalign Teen anticipates this happening, and provides up to six replacement aligners at no charge, just in case!

How frequent are follow-up visits in the office?

No matter which route you choose for your orthodontic treatment, you can expect relatively frequent visits to your orthodontist. For Rhoads Orthodontics patients in braces, adjustment appointments will be scheduled every 6-8 weeks or so. At these appointments, Dr. Rhoads will check on the progress your teeth are making, replace any worn-out rubber bands, and make any necessary adjustments to your wires and bands. Invisalign patients are typically seen less often, but these appointments are just as important to the treatment process. 

While treatment time will vary from case to case, the average patient will spend anywhere from 1-3 years in braces or aligners. We’ll see each other regularly throughout the process! We know how busy life can be and your time is valuable to us. That’s why we never overbook our patients and always strive to see you at your scheduled appointment time. 


Expertise you can trust at Rhoads Orthodontics

For an optimal orthodontic experience, you can’t do better than Dr. Stephanie Rhoads! Dr. Rhoads and her expert team will create a personalized treatment plan just for you, ensuring the long-lasting results you desire. Since orthodontics is her sole specialty, Dr. Rhoads has the experience and expertise necessary to give you the best in treatments, cost, and efficiency as you begin your journey to a straighter smile.

If you’re interested in learning more about how you can start your smile transformation with Dr. Rhoads and the team at Rhoads Orthodontics, schedule your FREE consultation today!