According to an announcement from the AAO, from February 1 through May 31, 2011, participating AAO members across the country are offering free expert consultations. Consumers who are interested in meeting with an orthodontist during this time frame are being encouraged to visit to find orthodontists near them and download a Free Consultation coupon.

According to Lee W. Graber, DDS, MS, MS, PhD, president of the AAO, "These free consultations give consumers a chance to have an expert evaluate their smiles. If treatment is indicated, people can discuss with their orthodontists the latest technologies and treatment options that would work best for their individual needs."

Graber also reminds consumers that any technology, new or traditional, is only as good as the expert who applies it, and orthodontists’ 2 or 3 years of advanced education beyond dental school means they are uniquely qualified to correct improperly aligned teeth and jaws. "An expert consultation with an orthodontist is the first step for anyone seeking a healthy, beautiful smile," Graber said.

To mark the launch of the Free Consultation program, during February the AAO is offering a limited number of individuals the chance to see their potential smiles through an online application called Virtual Smiles. Available at, it allows potential patients to upload a photo, which is then reviewed by an orthodontist and digitally enhanced to show what the smile might look like after orthodontic treatment.

The Virtual Smiles offer began on February 1 and will be available to the first 1,200 members of the public who submit a photo to the Web site. Participants will receive their digitally altered and orthodontist-reviewed "after" photo about 48 hours after submission, along with a Free Consultation coupon and a list of orthodontists in their area. The "after" photos are intended as an approximation of results of orthodontic treatment and are not a guarantee of identical results.