10 Key Questions to Ask When Choosing an Orthodontist
Orthodontic treatment is an investment in your oral health, often requiring a significant amount of time and money. Because of this, choosing the right orthodontist is an important decision. Reading online reviews and asking for recommendations from friends and neighbors can help you choose from the available orthodontists in your area, but it’s also important to ask questions to ensure that you and your orthodontist are on the same page. The following 10 questions are a good place to start.
Is the doctor a trained, board certified orthodontic specialist?
Some dentists are able to provide certain orthodontic treatments, even though they don’t specialize in them. However, a trained, certified orthodontist has had several years of additional training and experience, including studying the growth and maturation of the teeth and jaw, learning biomechanical techniques to properly move teeth, and developing diagnostic skills specific to orthodontic treatment.
When it comes to an investment of this size into your oral health, it’s important to ensure you are being cared for by an orthodontic specialist. You can confirm if an orthodontist has been certified by the American Board of Orthodontics by using their Orthodontist Locator.
What treatment options does the office offer?
There is more to orthodontic treatment than braces. Depending on your specific needs, other treatment options may be available, so it’s important to know what treatments your doctor offers. If you are seeking orthodontic treatment as an adult, it’s also important to ensure that the office has experience treating patients of all ages.
Does the first appointment include an exam or just a consultation?
Before you schedule an appointment with a new orthodontist, check to see if your initial appointment will include an exam or if it’s more of a meet-and-greet with the doctor and staff. Ideally, a first appointment will encompass both: You will be introduced to the staff, tour the facility, have an initial exam with the doctor, and discuss possible treatment options.
If a doctor doesn’t offer an exam with the first appointment, that isn’t necessarily a bad sign, as each clinic operates differently. However, it’s important to know what to expect at your first visit. If the first consultation doesn’t include an exam, know that you will still need to have an exam before an official diagnosis can be made and a treatment plan agreed upon.
How much will treatment cost, and what kind of financing options are available?
The cost of your treatment will vary depending on your specific orthodontic needs, but your orthodontist should be able to give you a general idea of what treatment will cost, as well as what insurance plans they accept and what financing options are available. Most offices will do their best to help you determine how to make orthodontic treatment work with your budget.
At Falls Orthodontics, we have a financial coordinator on staff who will meet with you to review your insurance coverage and help you determine the best payment option for your treatment.
What is included in my treatment plan?
More specifically, find out if your treatment plan includes emergency visits, x-rays, a set of retainers, and follow up appointments. It’s important to know whether all of these elements are included within your treatment plan or if they will be charged separately, so you can plan accordingly. This is an important question to ask before you begin treatment, as this is another area where each clinic will handle things differently.
How often will I need to have appointments?
The frequency of your appointments will depend on your specific treatment (for instance, most patients with braces can expect to have adjustment appointments every 6-8 weeks or so). Check with your doctor for their recommendations.
Also, ask about the clinic’s hours so you can have an idea of when you’ll need to make room in your schedule for appointments. Most schools are used to letting students out for orthodontic appointments, since much of their student body will undergo some kind of orthodontic treatments. As an adult, most employers will treat these visits like any other doctor appointment, but it’s a good idea to discuss it with them in advance.
What if I need an emergency appointment?
Especially with braces, you may find that you need an emergency visit outside of your normal appointments (a wire comes loose, a bracket pops off, etc). Ask the clinic if they have emergency hours outside of their regular hours and if they charge extra for emergency appointments. Whether or not you are charged for emergency visits may depend on if the issue is due to appliance malfunction or to noncompliance with the guidelines for caring for your appliance. Ask your doctor how they handle this ahead of time so you know what to expect.
Will I see the orthodontist at every appointment? If not, who else will be handling my care?
A good orthodontist will have a strong team of qualified staff to assist them in their work. Ask what parts of your treatment the orthodontist will do themselves and what things they will entrust to their other staff. If other staff will be involved in your treatment, ask what qualifications those staff have.
Are the staff friendly and welcoming?
From the time you first walk into the office, you should be made to feel welcome by all staff. They will be part of your life for the duration of your treatment, so it’s important to find a clinic that has friendly staff who treat you like a priority. Good clinic staff will make all the difference in your orthodontic experience.
Will the clinic provide patient references?
Online reviews and referrals from friends and acquaintances are a wonderful resource. Many offices will also provide references from previous or current patients. Hearing first-hand accounts from patients about their experience with the orthodontist and other clinic staff can be an invaluable part of helping you choose the right orthodontist for you.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions during your search for an orthodontist, as well as throughout your treatment. A good doctor will want you to feel at ease about your treatment and will be happy to answer any questions you have.
Here at Falls Orthodontics, we treat all of our patients like family. It is our goal to bring a sense of calm to your treatment process and to infuse joy into your orthodontic experience. If you are considering orthodontic treatment and have questions, don’t hesitate to give us a call at 715-483-1505. And when you’re ready to schedule your first appointment with us, you will receive a FREE initial consult!