Looking for Discount Orthodontics?

Let’s face it. Healthcare is expensive. Lasik surgery can cost $5000 or more for three short visits. A broken arm will cost you $7000 or more at the emergency room. Laser hair removal can cost even more than that! In today’s economy with incomes down and expenses up, it is not uncommon for families to price shop for everything. Is price shopping for orthodontics a good idea? How can some offices provide care for less? Does it really matter who puts on the braces? Fees in my office are determined by what it costs us to provide the service. We have an accounting firm that keeps a close watch on our cash flow (we are a business after all) and about once a year we evaluate what we’re taking in (fees) and what we’re paying out (overhead). Our fees are about average for Albuquerque’s Westside but lower than most practices on the Eastside. Why are we higher than some but lower than others? Here are three variables that affect fees…

Perhaps the most visible difference between orthodontic offices is the physical facility and equipment. One of my colleagues practices in a rented room in the back of a hygiene clinic. The overhead for his office is very low. Practices in the Northeast Heights pay higher rent than we do so their costs for office space are higher. I practice in a stand-alone building with plenty of free parking close to the door, a fun waiting room for your kids, and a comfortable clinic with lots of extra seating for family members. Our office is 100% digital with more than 30 computers. Admittedly, we could straighten teeth with fewer, but each one is a gear in our "well-oiled-machine."

A second variable that affects our fees is the quality of the treatment we provide. I’ve been in practice for over 20 years now. Many of my staff members have been with me most of that time. They are talented and know what they are doing. They cost more than inexperienced technicians… and they are worth it! We also use the most efficient braces available. Damon brackets cost us about ten times more than mail-order brackets from China. The proven quality, reliability, and consistency provided by Damon brackets make them worth the extra expense. We also use the latest technology in wires. Wires, more than anything else, determine the position of teeth at the end of treatment. We use the Suresmile system to create custom wires that move teeth faster and more accurately than anything else! The results are stunning and take 30% less treatment time, but this technology costs money. It is impossible to hire the most talented staff, use the best brackets, provide the most efficient wires, and still charge the same as those who don’t. Conversely, it is impossible to obtain our results without them.

The third and perhaps biggest difference between treatment costs has to do with what is included in our fee. When price shopping, it is important to make sure that you compare "apples to apples" as they say. Many times when it appears that our fee for a first phase of treatment is higher, it turns out that our quote included a lot more (i.e. an expander, braces, and retainers while the competing office only recommended an expander). In adolescent patients where I’ve recommended the removal of teeth to achieve the best outcome, our 24-month treatment fee will always be more than a 12-month non-extraction proposal from another office. The difference between the two options is a non-financial matter that must be discussed with each doctor as the final result will be very different. The take home message is that it is important to ask what is included in a proposed fee because apples and oranges rarely cost the same.

Choosing orthodontic care for yourself or for your child can be a life-changing decision. The quality of the result and treatment experience will not be the same just because the doctor has a license. You may be able to find cheaper orthodontic care elsewhere, but you won’t find better treatment than Jorgensen Orthodontics!

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.