Through a Variety of Channels and Strategies, the AAO Promotes Members, the Orthodontic Specialty, and Educates the Public

The AAO’s Consumer Awareness Program (CAP) is a mass-market campaign designed to promote the benefits of orthodontic treatment. Funded by an assessment of AAO members who are currently practicing in the United States and Canada, CAP advertisements and other AAO promotional activity come in various forms and on a variety of different platforms.

Among our top priorities are the responsible use of our members’ CAP assessment dollars and creation of compelling content and strategies that members can implement in their own practices.  

For an effective strategy that reaches consumers from different backgrounds, geographic regions and socio-economic groups, the AAO Consumer Awareness Program utilizes a variety of tactics to reach consumers when they are researching treatment options for themselves or a family member. Key to these campaigns – particularly in today’s world of direct-to-consumer everything – is promoting the importance and value of receiving care from qualified professionals, namely, orthodontists. At the AAO, this can happen in a variety of ways. 

A key strategy to drive online users to the AAO consumer website with the greatest return on investment is search engine optimization, or SEO. This process involves optimizing a website’s content to increase the number of individuals who find AAO content organically (or nonpaid) on search engines like Google, Yahoo or Bing. The AAO engages in search engine optimization by predicting what common orthodontic related queries the general public will search for online and then customizing AAO content on the consumer website to answer these questions. 

For instance, a consumer who searches for something like “do I have a deep bite?” will regularly see the AAO consumer blog post, “What is a Deep Bite?” among the top search engine results. In this way, the AAO consumer blog answers common questions concerning orthodontic health issues, when to see an orthodontist, early orthodontic care or even the dangers of mail-order or direct-to-consumer treatment. 

Search engine marketing (also known as SEM or Pay Per Click) provides potential patients or parents a direct answer to a query they may search on Google. Members routinely express their concern about patient care as it relates to DTC treatments. When a potential patient performs a Google search on terms such as, “Cheap braces for adults” or “can a dentist do Invisalign” ads direct them to the consumer website to read more about why an orthodontist is the right choice.  

Video is a key driver in any marketing campaign, and the AAO has produced some award-winning commercials that rely on an amusing or interesting message to educate potential orthodontic patients on the importance of seeing an AAO orthodontist for their treatment. “Happy Mouth Now,” a light-hearted, parody video series launched in 2020 and addressed direct-to-consumer orthodontics. This campaign contained social media and YouTube advertisements that drove consumers to a branded landing page, driving home the messaging that the risks of not seeing an orthodontist in person are very real. Most recently, a new campaign touting the perfectionist in all orthodontists, called “Serial Straighteners” launched on YouTube and social media. 

In 2020, the AAO launched its first social media influencer campaign. An influencer is someone who is both compelling and can reach a sizable audience in order to sell a product or deliver a message to a specific demographic. Today, many influencers rely on social media platforms like Instagram to build credibility and engage audiences of a variety of sizes.  

Previous AAO influencer campaigns have involved influencers’ families sharing the message about the need to have an orthodontic check-up for children by age 7. In the first iteration, the AAO sponsored posts on feeds distributed by five influencers on Instagram, whose combined audience was nearly 900,000. These posts resulted in nearly 160,000 engagements (comments and clicks) and drove more than 1,230 users to the Find an Orthodontist locator on the AAO consumer website.  

Fiscal Year 2023 will bring some exciting new tactics to grow the reach of the campaign, educate consumers and increase content consumption and website visits. For more information, visit and follow the AAO on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.