American Association of Orthodontists Review: Should You Join?

Updated on March 11th, 2022
American Association of Orthodontists Review: Should You Join?

Founded in St. Louis in 1900, the 18,000 member American Association of Orthodontists is currently the oldest and largest dental specialty organization in the world. The American Association of Orthodontists promotes the public interest, the public image of the orthodontics industry, and general orthodontic and oral health well-being.

For orthodontists, the American Association of Orthodontists provides a truly impressive array of benefits and perks. Its consumer awareness digital marketing program (discussed below) is a best-in-class program, generating millions of referrals to AAO members in the U.S. and Canada each year. And it has one of the best affiliate discount programs of any association of its size we’ve seen. 

But first, let’s take a look at some of the AAO’s most important benefits and perks

American Association of Orthodontists Benefits

The American Association of Orthodontists provides a number of valuable perks and benefits to its members across the United States, Canada, and abroad. Among these resources are checklists, best practice guides, and other informational materials to help member orthodontists establish a new practice, acquire an existing one, and even sell a practice to relocate or transition to retirement. Here is a brief list of AAO benefits and resources. 

Directory Listing

According to the AAO, their “Find an Orthodontist” tool (which is what they call their online directory) receives a total of 2 million annual visits each year. These inquiries generate a steady stream of referrals from people who seek traditional braces, x-rays, digital scans, treatment for diseases of the teeth and gums, or other issues or orthodontic health treatments to their 18,000 members.

Some of these treatments can't be done by an ordinary licensed dentist, and require the additional training of an orthodontist.

The American Association of Orthodontists directory and other publications are also useful for other things, too: For example, Association  jobs listings from businesses advertising for employees, and reading up on developing issues and concerns within the industry.

Raising Public Awareness of Orthodontic Treatment

Unlike most traditional professional associations, the American Association of Orthodontists takes a modern approach and focuses heavily on consumer awareness and promoting itself and the profession on digital platforms to consumers, including social media, paid, and organic search channels.

The association has been actively investing in growing the amount of traffic it receives on its websites. The AAO claims that in 2019, their digital efforts yielded a 324% increase in total web traffic.

The digitally focused effort uses a wide range of free and paid tactics to drive traffic to AAO’s consumer-facing website. In FY20-21 alone, CAP ads drove over 4.8 million consumers to the AAO consumer website. 

Student Loan Refinancing

Orthodontists frequently have a heavy student loan burden when they enter the field. The AAO has entered into an agreement with SoFi to help members refinance their existing student loans with a very favorable interest rate. 

If you have outstanding debt from multiple loans, you can use refinancing to combine them into one loan. This allows you to pay off your debt more easily. However, you should consider whether refinancing is worth giving up certain benefits available with a federal loan, such as income-based repayment options under REPAYE, public service loan forgiveness (PSLF) after ten years, or forbearance options.


American Association of Orthodontists members can opt for the exclusive AAO-insurance programs, where they can receive coverage at special rates for not only professional liability, but also life, disability, workers’ compensation, and critical illness insurance.

The AAO also offers an affiliation discount for these critical business insurance lines: 

  • Business owners policy
  • Cyber liability insurance
  • Employment practices liability insurance
  • Group business/professional overhead expense insurance
  • Business interruption insurance

The programs are administered by Lockton Affinity, LLC. With the help of the group purchasing model, AAO members can enjoy comprehensive protection at discounted rates. 

Orthodontist practices frequently need to help patients find a way to conveniently and affordably finance orthodontic procedures and services not covered by insurance. Many families who need orthodontic care for themselves or their children, or who are recovering from expensive damage to their teeth and jaws, cannot afford to pay the full cost of treatment upfront. Offering a way to finance their care is often the difference between taking on a new patient or sending them away untreated. 

We have partnered with thousands of dentists and orthodontists nationwide to help oral health care professionals offer an affordable way for patients to pay for care.

You get paid upfront for services. You don’t have to carry the note, hoping the patient shows up for follow up visits. Once the patient is approved and confirmed, you get paid for the entire course of treatment right away - providing valuable cash flow you can use to run your practice. And the person you're treating has the ability to make payments, determine what course of treatment they need, and access to the health care and support they need from American Association of Orthodontist membership.

Offering more ways for patients to pay puts you in control of your cash flow, reduces the risk to your practice, and puts patients in control of their own dental health.

If you’re interested in learning more about how a consumer finance company can help dental practices to grow, fill out our inquiry form and one of our team members will reach out to you.


The American Association of Orthodontists works with state legislatures, Congress, state dental boards, and regulatory bodies to advocate for practitioners' interests when it comes to drafting dental laws and regulations. Poorly crafted legislation can cause  potentially irreversible damage to members' interests. The American Association of Orthodontists seeks to protect the interests of orthodontists, including protecting the integrity of the license and protecting consumers against encroachment on orthodontic services by less qualified professionals.

Professional Development and Networking Events

Throughout the year, the AAO hosts some of the best events and conferences for orthodontic specialists promoting healthy teeth, jaws, and gums and all of which offer amazing learning and networking resources and opportunities. As of now, the AAO offers two events every year, including:

  • AAO Annual Session – held anywhere between May and June, the annual sessions feature an awards show that recognizes the accomplishments of fellow orthodontists, insightful lectures and speaker sessions, and other special celebrations.
  • Winter Conference – these are held anywhere between February and January every year. The Winter conference features insights and new research, delivered through speaker sessions and lectures, and up to 14.25 hours of continuing education (CE) credits.

Should You Join the American Association of Orthodontists?

If you’re an orthodontist, the answer is a strong ‘yes.’ The mix of benefits and potential upside is particularly strong for those just starting their first jobs as orthodontists, and those who are in private practice. 


Mike Farrell

With over 30 years of experience in the financial industry, Mike Farrell currently leads operations at Time Investment Company.