10 things to consider when choosing an orthodontist
1. Qualifications and experience
Orthodontic treatment requires the skills and expertise of a specialist orthodontist. If you’re considering orthodontic treatment, find out what qualifications and experience your orthodontist has. They should have a Bachelor of Dentistry followed by a Master in Orthodontics and be a member of professional bodies, such as the Australian Society of Orthodontists.
2. Support team
While an orthodontist is responsible for your overall treatment plan, they don’t work alone. They are surrounded by a team of professionals, from orthodontic therapists to dental nurses, treatment co-ordinators to hygienists. Each plays an important role in your orthodontic treatment journey so take time to find out what qualifications and experience the team has and who will be involved in your care.
3. Treatment options
Developments in orthodontic technology means there is a range of treatment methods available. They may not all be suitable for your case, but you can find out which ones you could benefit from at an initial consultation prior to starting treatment. Prior to booking a consultation, take a look at the practice website to find out what treatments are on offer. This will enable you to ask informed questions about your treatment options when the opportunity arises.
4. Previous work
Finding an orthodontist who works close to where you live or work is certainly convenient when it comes to booking appointments but check to see if the quality of their treatment is what you are looking for. You can do this by looking at before and after photos of previous cases they have worked on. Most orthodontists will display these on their website, along with patient testimonials, but if not, ask for them at reception.
5. Industry recognition
Is your orthodontic practice an industry-recognised provider of the treatments they offer? Check the practice website for industry logos as this is an indicator of recognition and professional members. For example, if you are interested in Invisalign treatment, check to see what status your orthodontist and his/her practice holds.
6. Cost and finance
Orthodontic treatment is a significant financial investment but most orthodontists understand this and provide payment plans to help with the cost. Before you embark on treatment, make sure you have a full quote which details all fees involved. This should also include retention post-treatment. Many orthodontists provide some initial costs on their website but remember, every case is unique, including yours, so be sure to make a decision based on the cost for your treatment.
Embarking on orthodontic treatment isn’t a decision to be made lightly and it’s important you are fully informed before making your decision. Most orthodontists will offer a FREE consultation, during which they’ll review your medical history, talk to you about your treatment objectives, assess your orthodontic needs, take photographs and x-rays and provide you with a treatment plan, which will include the cost and duration of your treatment.
8. At home and post-treatment care
While undergoing orthodontic treatment, you’ll have regular appointments with your orthodontist (about every eight weeks), as well as your usual appointments with your dentist. However, in between times, you want to know that in the unlikely event you have trouble with your appliance, help and support is there. It’s also important to receive help and support post-treatment as well. Retention is a vital phase of your orthodontic treatment journey as this helps to keep your teeth in position once your appliance has been removed. Ensure retention is included in your treatment plan and cost.
9. Relationships with dentists
Throughout your treatment you will be under the care of a specialist orthodontist, but your dentist also needs to be kept informed. Find out what the relationship is between your orthodontist and your dentist. It should be one of open communication, and they should be working together to ensure you get the best treatment possible. While your orthodontist will be responsible for your appliance, your dentist will continue to be responsible for your overall oral hygiene, so both will be involved with your treatment.
10. Clinic environment
On average, orthodontic treatment lasts between 12 and 24 months. This is a reasonable length of time to be attending appointments so you want to be comfortable and relaxed in the clinic. If your orthodontist offers a free consultation, in addition to getting information on your treatment options, this is also an opportunity for you to get a taste of the practice. Are you warmly welcomed by reception? Do you feel at ease in the clinic? Are the staff friendly and approachable? Make sure the clinic is a place you are happy to spend time in and a place where you feel supported.