When it comes to getting your teeth straightened there are 5 things that you need to decide about your treatment. This will help you choose where to go, who to see and what brace to have. So here are my top 5 things to think over when you looking at your options.
Part of being a competent “tooth straightener” is being able to properly diagnose the issues affecting the teeth and drawing up appropriate and achievable treatment plans. The difficulty for you as a “patient” is you don’t have any idea how competent they are – they may come across as lovely, have a fantastic team working with them, have a lovely practice and website but the real proof is in the successes they have achieved.
So if you want to know if they can “walk the walk” you need to ask for evidence that they can do what they say they can do.
Are specialists any better than Non-Specialists? Well they have done more specific training in Orthodontics – in fact 3 more years at University. They have been taught how to diagnose and treatment plan orthodontic cases so yes, in theory, they should be the best. I would still ask to see evidence of their work, look at the reviews/patient feedback etc. Its much more than having a fancy certificate on the wall.
2. Near to home or Work/School?
This is going to depend on how busy you are. Where do you spend most of your time? For many of us that’s at work or school. Naturally having an orthodontist near to these locations will mean easier access to them for your routine appointments. But if you work from home some days or want to come in holiday times then nearer home is best. Think about traffic/commuting as well. How easy is the route especially at peak travel times. What happens if you have a problem with the brace?
If you are on a short time frame this is probably going to mean a comprehensive treatment is not going to happen! Shorter treatments are normally going to involve lining up your front teeth only. Forget about pulling in prominent front teeth, correcting a mismatched bite or deep bites – they simply can’t be done quickly. You need to know what is achievable so research is key. I would always recommend seeing a Specialist Orthodontist to diagnose the issues so you know whether a short time treatment option is going to work for your issue.
Are there ways to get straighter teeth in your time frame and finish the treatment afterwards? Can you have the brace on the inside so it doesn’t show?
4. I can only come at 9am on a Saturday!
We are all busy people (including Orthodontists) and if you need appointments at specific times it’s best to look for someone who is flexible – it’s no good to you if the orthodontics is only done on the third Thursday of the month between the hours of 1-8pm! Find out when the “tooth straightener” is available. Don’t be surprised if the consultation appointments and brace fitting appointments are during the day time.
These are often long appointments and the early morning and later afternoon appointment slots are premium for patients coming for their adjustments. If it’s really that important to come first thing in the morning see if you can “pre-book” those popular slots and be prepared to pay a bit more for the service. Be flexible too.
5. How much should you pay?
Having your teeth straightened can seem costly. It is also sometimes a bit confusing as different providers charge different amounts too! So what are you really paying for when you sign up for treatment?
Experience/expertise/reassurance – a competent provider who has completed successfully a good number of cases. This can be judged by looking at examples of the work they have done. Try and get them to show you a case similar to yours. The more cases they can show you the better.
Service/Staff and Environment – hard to compare between providers without first-hand experience but go and spend some time in the practice – see how they treat their patients. Are the staff happy and smiley or grumpy and miserable! Does the décor look fresh and inviting? If it looks like they invest in the staff and practice then they are likely to be much more focused on customer service too.
When it comes to cost of treatment the important thing is to think about what is it really worth to you? Remember orthodontic treatment is not a 1 visit every 6 months process. So whilst you might tolerate poor service if it’s not too often imagine how it will be attending every 7-8 weeks for a year and a half! Also what other benefits are you getting for your money. And lastly, when you compare one provider to another are you getting the exact same thing with each? Yes you might get Invisalign form Dr X for £1000 less than Dr Y but check you are comparing like for like. Some Invisalign providers charge extra for refinements (and you ALWAYS need at least 1!), other providers say they are using Invisalign and they are not. If in doubt check them on the Dr locator from the Invisalign website. If they don’t show they are either not a provider, using someone else’s accreditation or they have just started using Invisalign in the last 12 months.
I hope that helps give you some idea of what to look for.
Happy tooth straightening!