Because your children's oral health care is as important as their education, it's not something you want to leave up to chance. So choosing a family orthodontics practice carefully is as necessary as evaluating the school you want them to attend. Here are the considerations you should bring to the process of finding an orthodontic professional you can trust.
Personal recommendations from family and friends are always a good place to start. If you already have an idea of the treatment your kids need, ask for a referral to an orthodontist who has performed the same type of treatment for someone you know.
If your child has a pronounced underbite, for example, he or she might need to wear an orthodontic appliance Garri Tsibel, DDS describes as a facemask. In this instance, it's ideal to identify a family orthodontics practice that focuses on correcting malocclusions, rather than one that specializes in the general fitting of braces.
Certain practices' use of the Internet has made a huge difference in the ease with which you can find services in your area:
- Use search engines to look for orthodontic practices within a certain distance from your zip code.
- Check "find a doctor" directories such as the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO), and that of specific product developers such as Invisalign.
Make a list of three or four orthodontic practices that look promising and that you can spend time evaluating further. Read experiences from other patients, and look to see how the practice handles any negative reviews that come their way. This will give you a sense of whether patients are satisfied with the treatment they're getting. You may even want to ask your child's dentist for more technical comments on the doctors they know.
Is the 'First Consultation Free'?
Most family orthodontics practitioners understand your need for careful assessment before choosing a provider for such an important aspect of your kids' healthcare. Therefore, many practices offer a free initial consultation. As outlined by offices like Center City Orthdontics, this gives you and your child a chance to meet the doctor, discuss his needs and treatment options, the costs involved and the length of time to complete the treatment. You'll probably come away with some literature as well, educating you on what to expect during the process. Take advantage of these opportunities to check out potential providers before making a final choice.
Ask for the Practitioner's Qualifications
Orthodontia comes in all shapes and sizes, but one's fundamental qualifications remain an important basis for your decision. Ask to see the doctor's certificates, and if there's anything you aren't familiar with, request for more information.
Dentists require a DDS or a DMD (Doctor of Dental Surgery or Doctor of Dental Medicine) qualification. Once this is completed, students enroll in an orthodontic residency program, which the University of Pennsylvania explains can last two to three years. The successful completion of this post-graduate program yields a Masters of Science degree, after which he takes an examination from the American Association of Orthodontics to become a practicing orthodontist.
Evaluate Financial Practices
It's your money, and any form of orthodontic treatment is likely to cost you a fair amount of it. Find out what the practice's policy is regarding insurance claims. Ask about payment plans, if they accept your insurance provider or whether you'll be expected to pay cash upfront. Determine if there are discounts for advance payments, and whether installments are subject to interest. You may also want to check whether the provider you choose recommends special products such as Colgate® Phos-Flur® anticavity fluoride rinse, which helps to keep your child's teeth healthy and strong throughout orthodontic treatment. Evaluate the answers you receive against your personal preferences before committing to a two- or three-year treatment plan.
Finally, find a professional you feel comfortable with. Bedside manners aren't just for doctors, and you (and your child) need to feel confident with the family orthodontics practice you choose. The practitioner's background experience is just as important as how he communicates with your own child. Of course, ask your child for input on whether he likes the person as well, and whether he can speak openly about any concerns or fears.