Choosing the right orthodontist is the most important decision you will make about your treatment. It is a relatively long relationship and a relatively large investment. Your goals should be:
A Pleasant Experience
This is why you are starting on this journey!
To best prepare yourself for this final analysis:
Ask family and friends who may have achieved a beautiful smile and had a pleasant experience.
Search on the internet for orthodontists in your area.
Visit or call to make some consultation appointments.
At the appointments, ask questions pertinent to your treatment.
Ask about the qualifications of the orthodontist (this is a specialty requiring 3 extra years of intensive study and practice after completion of a dental degree).
Ask about the experience
Ask to see before and after pictures of previous patients using the appliances he or she is prescribing, so that you will know what has been achieved on similar cases to your own.
Find out how many years in practice.
Does the orthodontist have any specialties?
And last, but not least, ask if you may speak to one of the patients, perhaps the one waiting to see the orthodontist just after you.
A Pleasant Experience
You may be visiting this practice from 6 months to 2 years (maybe even 3 without suresmile), including your retention appointments!
How are you treated by all the staff members?
Was everything regarding your initial appointment explained before your visit?
Were your questions welcomed and answered thoroughly?
Were your treatment plan and options explained thoroughly, and were you invited to ask any further questions, without any sales pressure?
Were you treated as an individual with privacy and respect?
Did you feel comfortable with the physical environment, doctor and staff and other patients?
Many times people looking into orthodontics have no idea of the costs involved, so take some time to educate yourself. You would not go look for a new car and pay the price on the door without making some comparisons!
Be prepared to visit at least 2 orthodontists, and, yes, pay for 2 consultations. (See our article on Consultation Costs.)
Call your private health fund to see what you might be reimbursed. You will need to know the codes quoted for your treatment (i.e. ‘881’ for full course of orthodontic treatment/braces on upper and lower teeth)
Ask about payment plans and discounts. Some payment plans are offered interest-free from the practice, some are ‘farmed’ to finance companies. Know how much will be due and when, and what any finances charges may be involved so you will be able to calculate the actual cost.
Plan your finances so that you start when it is financially comfortable. Usually, orthodontics is not an urgent start (See our article on When Should I Start My Orthodontic Treatment?) You may be anxious to get started, but make sure it is a pleasant experience without undue financial pressure. You want this to be an enjoyable experience in all aspects.