What’s the best way to choose an orthodontist for treatment?
I think the best way is to get a referral from a dentist you like and trust. A referral from a friend is also a reliable source. Barring that, you can find one on your own by doing research online.
The worst way to choose a provider is to base your decision on price alone. I’ve seen many people shop around for the cheapest orthodontist, ignoring other important factors. This is not the way to do it! Remember that old saying, you get what you pay for.
When choosing an orthodontist for you or your child, here are some things to look for:
Look For: Orthodontic Care From An Orthodontist (Not A Dentist)
An orthodontist is a dentist but a dentist is not an orthodontist. This is an important distinction between the two.
While both have attended dental school, the orthodontist has gone on to complete an additional two or three years of study in the field of orthodontics. More and more dentists are offering braces and other orthodontic services to their patients, but they simply don’t have the academic training or the real-life experience that orthodontists have. With something as important as your smile, you should work with an expert.
Look For: A Practice Owned By The Provider (Not A Corporation)
When a doctor, dentist, or orthodontist owns their own practice, they have a personal interest in making sure their patients are satisfied with the treatment and care they’ve received. In my experience, I’ve noticed that they are in it for the long haul and they care greatly about their reputation and the reputation of their practice.
Alternatively, when a practice is owned by a corporation or investors, the providers within that practice don’t have the same sort of skin in the game. They may be fresh out of dental school or be primarily motivated by paying off student loan debt, rather than providing the best patient care possible. It’s also been my experience that these types of practices are more likely to have over-worked (and possibly under-trained) employees, provide treatment of lower quality, and have long wait times.
Though the fees may be lower at a practice that’s not provider-owned, you can see why that is. Bottom line, make sure to ask whether the practice you’re considering is owned by the orthodontist.
Look For: Competitive Fees (Not The Lowest)
Competitive pricing means that the fees one provider charges are within the range of what his or her competitors are charging. Fees far below those of other providers should make you stop and think. As another old saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. There’s a reason the price is so low.
Unfortunately, sometimes paying less for treatment ends up costing more in the long run, especially if the patient needs treatment again in the future to correct mistakes made the first time. Yes, this happens.
I know that paying for orthodontic treatment can be a burden to many families and I don’t make this recommendation lightly. The bottom line is, it’s not possible to get the same high level of care at the lowest price. Many orthodontic practices, including mine, make it easier for families to pay by offering options like payment plans and financing so that every individual can get the high-quality care they need. If paying for treatment is a big consideration, look for a practice that has these kinds of options.
Look For: Great Experience and Reviews (Not Just Fee Schedules)
You can usually find out a lot about a potential provider from their website. Try to see how long they’ve been practicing and the range of services provided. Look for evidence that the practice cares about the training standards of their assistants and staff. See if they offer extras, like Brace Bus, care calls, and patient compliance rewards.
For the things you can’t find out from the practice’s website, read over online reviews. Here you’ll discover whether the wait times were too long, if the front desk staff was friendly or not, and whether the reviewers were happy with the treatment they received.
In short, do your homework. Even if you get a strong referral from a friend or a dentist – which I believe is the best way to find an orthodontist – it’s still smart to find out what you can online.
Finding the Right Provider for Your Family
Remember that undergoing orthodontic treatment is not just a matter of money, but of time, comfort, and convenience, too. You will likely be going to the orthodontist’s office regularly, so it’s important that you like the people and the atmosphere. Think about what’s important to your family and do your research. When your treatment is over, you’ll be glad you spent so much time choosing the right provider for your family.