As consumers, we all know the costs of goods and services tend to decrease over time. This is exemplified in orthodontics as well. It may not seem like it, but the overall cost of orthodontic treatment has actually declined on an inflation-adjusted basis since the 1960’s. That being said, the investment required for proper orthodontic care can still be significant, particularly given that insurance benefits have been diminished. This leaves a personal financial investment for the consumer to bear.
So as a consumer, how do you determine who to see for orthodontic care?
There are numerous variables to keep in mind. In a retail environment, you can purchase the same couch from a different store for a lower (or higher) price. A medical service like orthodontics is also subject to pricing with the critical variables being patient results and experiences. Not all treatment providers are able to achieve excellent results or provide patients with favorable experiences. Orthodontists, in theory, are equally trained in treatment techniques and care, but by no means are they all able to provide the same level of service.
Why? Because just like anything else in life, not all orthodontists are created equal.
How do you ensure the quality of care for you and your family? To me, the proof is in the pudding. When seeking an orthodontist, look for positive referrals from family and friends based on treatment results. You should also ask to see “before and after” photos of actual patients with your similar orthodontic problems that the orthodontist has treated. Have them outline the level of expertise the orthodontist has in treating your issue. You should make certain that the doctor has provided clear reasons for the suggested treatment and has shown you the problems with a thorough diagnostic analysis. There should be stated and definitive treatments objectives outlined which are open for discussion. In short, you need to be extremely comfortable with the doctor and the entire practice team you will be having an extended professional relationship with.
With costs, sometimes things are not what they appear to be. Some doctors will provide a cost for the proposed treatment, but will not outline hidden (no pun intended) costs that are not included in the initial estimate. These added costs are charged to you during your treatment. Additional charges for emergency visits, broken braces repair and diagnostic records are commonplace as well. You can also get financing costs passed on to you during treatment (some doctors will charge a fee if you change the credit card you have on file for monthly payments!). Other examples of hidden charges include teeth whitening, retainers, and routine maintenance after treatment. Another key consideration is whether the orthodontic practice actually checked your insurance benefits at the time of your initial consult. It’s important they provide you with the most accurate estimate possible. Be sure to compare cost estimates, and ask questions regarding what the estimate includes (or does not include).
Finally, as a consumer, and as a parent looking for the best possible orthodontic care at a reasonable price, keep one thing in mind: Make sure you enter this exciting journey with eyes wide open and questions ready to ask.
Written by Dr. Ken Danyluk, Orthodontist at Team Orthodontics