Having braces can be an awkward experience, especially as a teenager. You spend a lot of time with your orthodontist getting your wires tightened and brackets adjusted. It’s easy to develop a crush on them. But is it ever appropriate to date your orthodontist?
No, you should not date your orthodontist while you are undergoing treatment. Most professional orthodontic associations have ethics rules prohibiting romantic relationships between orthodontists and their current patients.
Why You Should Not Date Your Orthodontist
There are several important reasons why dating your orthodontist is not a good idea:
- It violates ethics rules – Most professional orthodontic associations prohibit romantic relationships between orthodontists and their current patients. Dating a current patient could lead to disciplinary action against the orthodontist.
- Power imbalance – There is an inherent power imbalance between an orthodontist and their patient that makes meaningful consent difficult.
- Conflict of interest – An orthodontist’s duty is to provide you with the best possible treatment. A romantic relationship could compromise their objectivity and clinical judgement.
- Appearance of favoritism – Other patients may feel that you are receiving preferential treatment if you are dating the orthodontist.
- Disruption to treatment – A break-up could make you uncomfortable about continuing treatment, disrupting your progress.
Because of these concerns, most orthodontists will not date a current patient. Doing so violates their ethical obligations and puts their professional reputation at risk.
What If You Develop Feelings?
It’s understandable to develop feelings for someone you see frequently, especially during your formative teenage years. If you find yourself attracted to your orthodontist, here are some healthy ways to respond:
- Wait until treatment is over – If the feelings persist after your braces are removed, you may ethically ask them on a date at that point.
- Request a different provider – You can ask to switch to a different orthodontist in the practice so there is no conflict.
- Focus on other relationships – Distract yourself by spending time with family, friends, or dating people outside the orthodontist’s office.
- Be professional – Interact politely but maintain boundaries until treatment is complete.
Crushes are normal, but act appropriately by waiting until the doctor-patient relationship ends. Don’t let it impact your treatment or behavior at the orthodontist’s office.
Are There Ever Exceptions?
There are a few rare situations where dating your orthodontist may be ethically acceptable:
- You begin seeing each other after completing treatment and achieving stable occlusion. However, ethical concerns may still exist if you only recently finished.
- The orthodontist sold their practice and is no longer providing you treatment. However, they may still have power over your records.
- You switched to a different orthodontist in the same practice for an extended period. However, perceptions of favoritism may persist.
Even in these exceptional cases, extreme caution is warranted. The specter of impropriety is difficult to avoid. It’s best to seek romantic relationships outside of healthcare providers whenever feasible.
Asking Them Out After Treatment
If you still have feelings for your orthodontist after completing treatment, you may ethically consider asking them on a date. Here are some tips for navigating this delicate situation:
- Allow a reasonable period to pass – Don’t ask them out at your debracing appointment! Wait several months to clearly separate the personal and professional relationships.
- Do not make assumptions – Do not assume they share your romantic interest. Carefully gauge interest before making overtures.
- Consider power dynamics – Although you are no longer their patient, the orthodontist still occupied a position of authority over your care.
- Prepare for rejection – There is a strong chance they will decline due to professional concerns. Do not take it personally.
- Refrain from workplace interactions – Ask them on a date outside of the office setting to avoid discomfort.
By respecting ethical boundaries and acting sensitively, you can politely explore dating your former orthodontist. However, also be mindful that it may negatively impact their practice, so restraint on your part is wise.
When Is It Okay to Date Your Orthodontist?
There are a few instances where it may be permissible to date your orthodontist:
You Are No Longer a Patient
After completing orthodontic treatment and termination of the doctor-patient relationship, it may be acceptable to date your former orthodontist. However, it’s advisable to allow substantial time to pass first to avoid impropriety.
The Orthodontist Sold Their Practice
If your orthodontist sold their practice or retired, such that they no longer have any authority or influence over your care, dating them may not raise ethics concerns. But perception issues may still exist.
You Switched Providers
If you transferred your care to a different orthodontist within the practice for an extended period, it may mitigate conflicts sufficiently to permit dating the original doctor. But proceed with caution.
Overall, it is best to avoid romantic entanglements with current or former healthcare providers whenever possible. But in limited circumstances where the doctor-patient relationship is clearly severed, dating may not violate ethics rules.
How to Tell if Your Orthodontist is Interested
It can be challenging to discern if your orthodontist reciprocates any romantic feelings, given professional constraints against showing favor or flirting with patients. But there are some subtle cues to be aware of:
- Extended eye contact – Lingering eye contact may hint at mutual interest.
- Special favors – Making exceptions to office rules or policies for you.
- Flattering remarks – Complimenting your appearance beyond what is clinically relevant.
- Shared interests – Discussions of common hobbies, tastes, or experiences.
- Social cues – Laughing at jokes, inquiring about weekend plans, other informal chatter.
However, none of these are definitive proof of romantic interest. Orthodontists are normally friendly, polite, and engaging with patients. Do not assume deeper meaning without more overt evidence over time.
How to Tell Your Orthodontist You Are Interested
Asserting romantic interest in your orthodontist can be intimidating. Here are some methods to share your feelings appropriately:
- Ask indirect questions – Inquire if they are married or in a relationship to politely gather information.
- Compliment respectfully – Avoid commenting extensively on physical appearance.
- Suggest socializing – Propose grabbing coffee together to discuss shared interests.
- Make thoughtful gestures – Send a thank-you card for exceptional care received.
- Watch for reactions – Gauge their response to hints at interest on your part.
However, the most advisable approach is to avoid pursuing your orthodontist romantically until after completing treatment. Attempting romance prematurely risks your oral health and their professionalism.
Getting Over a Crush on Your Orthodontist
It’s natural to find yourself attracted to someone you interact with frequently, including an orthodontist. But it likely will not lead to a relationship while under their care. Here are tips for getting over a crush on your orthodontist:
- Remind yourself it’s temporary – Braces usually stay on for 1-3 years, so your time seeing them is limited.
- Focus on treatment goals – Concentrate on achieving a perfect smile instead of romantic fantasies.
- Limit unnecessary interactions – Only visit the number of times clinically needed.
- Avoid flirting – Flirting will only strengthen infatuation and shouldn’t occur with a doctor.
- Crush on someone else – Distract yourself by pursuing relationships outside the orthodontist’s office.
With time, distance, and conscious effort, an orthodontic crush will fade. But if it impacts you significantly, request a different provider for the remainder of treatment.
Maintaining Professional Boundaries
It is essential to maintain professional doctor-patient boundaries while undergoing orthodontic treatment. Here are some tips:
- Avoid flirting – Do not make romantic overtures or sexually charged comments.
- Follow office rules – Arrive promptly for appointments, pay bills on time, and comply with orthodontic instructions.
- Limit personal disclosures – Do not overshare personal information, photos, social media, etc.
- Respect space – Keep an appropriate physical distance unless clinically necessary to be closer.
- Mind your speech – Address them formally as “Doctor” or by their surname to reinforce professional tone.
By keeping your interactions focused on clinical objectives and remaining sensitive to power dynamics, you can get the most from treatment without compromising ethical boundaries.
Discussing Your Feelings with Friends and Family
Your friends and family can provide valuable support if you develop feelings for your orthodontist:
- Listen sympathetically – Having a crush on someone unattainable is part of growing up and exploring emotions.
- Put it in perspective – It’s a short-term infatuation that will pass once braces are removed.
- Offer distractions – Encourage nurturing relationships with peers instead.
- Praise restraint – Reinforce the maturity of waiting until after treatment concludes to pursue romance.
- Monitor impacts – Watch for signs of deteriorating oral hygiene or other negative effects and intervene.
With empathy, wisdom, and care from loved ones, a youthful orthodontic crush can become an opportunity for emotional growth rather than a source of distress and upheaval.
Dating your orthodontist is generally inadvisable while undergoing treatment. However, in limited circumstances where the doctor-patient relationship has clearly ended, pursuing romance may not directly violate ethics rules. Nonetheless, extreme prudence is warranted, and refraining from such relationships is the most prudent course. If you develop feelings for your orthodontist, be respectful, focus on completing treatment successfully, and wait until after terminating care to potentially ask them out.