Is All Orthodontic Treatment The Same?

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An attractive, healthy smile is an asset that can last a lifetime. Not only will orthodontic treatment influence how you feel about yourself, it will also contribute to how healthy and stable your teeth are in the long run. Awarding “the contract” to the right orthodontist for your family is too important to simply accept the lowest bid. All smiles are not created equally and just because a dentist has a license is no guarantee that you’ll be happy with the results. Here are four things you may want to consider as you choose your orthodontist:

A well run office reflects on the doctor's attention to detail
First, consider the organization of the office and staff. Although you may not understand malocclusions or treatment mechanics, you can tell a well-run office when you see one. Is everything clean and in its place? Are the technology and equipment up-to-date? Is the staff friendly, well-trained, and helpful? If so, it is safe to assume that an equal amount of care will go into the treatment they will provide. What kind of care will you receive from a doctor who cuts corners on his facility and staff just so his fee can be a little lower?

Is the doctor passionate about his job?
Second, what is the doctor’s attitude towards his job? Will he be passionate about your child’s care? Can he communicate his vision of your treatment plan so that it makes sense? Does he have enough integrity and confidence to wait until the ideal time to start treatment, or does he automatically recommend treatment to every patient so that he doesn’t “lose a sale”? Does he remove braces early because time is up, or does he finish the job? Will he examine your child at every appointment to make sure that treatment stays on schedule? Not all orthodontists are “hands-on” and it shows in the final results.

Have you seen actual results produced by the orthodontist?
Third, is the orthodontist really a good doctor? How did you find him, a recommendation or an advertisement? Have you actually seen his work? Do you have friends who can vouch for him? There is misconception that as long as a doctor has a degree, he’ll be able to give you the same results as anyone else. If that was the case, finding the lowest fee would make sense. Unfortunately, not all treatment is the same. Some orthodontists remove too many teeth. Some don’t remove enough. Some are very particular about their final results while others are content just going through the motions. Some have an eye for beauty. Others are just mouth mechanics. For something this important, you should ask to see actual examples of their work.

Do you feel at home in the office?
Finally, how do you feel when you are in the office? Is it a good fit for you and your family? Is it a happy, fun place? Unlike your family physician that you only see when you are sick, you will be visiting your orthodontist and his staff for at least a couple of years, sometimes six or seven years if the treatment is done in two parts. You should feel very comfortable and safe. The doctor and staff should make you feel at home.

All orthodontic treatment is NOT the same. The facilities and technology are a reflection of the orthodontist who will create the smile that you or your child will have the rest of your life. You really need to “vet” the doctor to whom you will entrust this important care. As with most things in life, you usually get what you pay for. When it comes to your smile, you can’t afford to make a mistake.


NOTE: The author, Dr. Greg Jorgensen, is a board-certified orthodontist who is in the private practice of orthodontics in Rio Rancho, New Mexico (a suburb on the westside of Albuquerque). He was trained at BYU, Washington University in St. Louis, and the University of Iowa in the United States. Dr. Jorgensen’s 25 years of specialty practice and 10,000 finished cases qualify him an expert in two-phase treatment, extraction and non-extraction therapy, functional orthodontics, clear aligners (Invisalign), and multiple bracket systems (including conventional braces, Damon and other self-ligating brackets, Suresmile, and lingual braces). This blog for informational purposes only and is designed to help consumers understand currently accepted orthodontic concepts. It is not a venue for debating alternative treatment theories. Dr. Jorgensen is licensed to diagnose and treat patients only in the state of New Mexico. He cannot diagnose cases described in comments nor can he select treatment plans for readers. Because he has over 25,000 readers each month, it is impossible for him respond to all questions. Please read all of the comments associated with each article as most of the questions he receives each week have been asked and answered previously. The opinions expressed here are protected by copyright laws and can only be used with written permission from the author.