Questions to ask about your orthodontic treatment
Making the decision to start orthodontic treatment can seem daunting due to the time and financial commitment required. There are a few questions that you can take to your orthodontic consultation that will help make the process more easily understood.
Do I need braces?
Maybe you’ve already been told by a dental professional that you would benefit from orthodontics, or you have noticed issues with your teeth or bite that make you unhappy or cause problems. There are many reasons that patients need orthodontics, including crowding, spaces, bite issues, missing teeth, jaw misalignment, or harmful oral habits that are affecting the teeth. Ask your orthodontist: “What will happen if I do not decide to pursue treatment?”
What types of braces would give me the best result?
There are several types of braces available. Options include metal (silver or gold), ceramic (clear), lingual (bonded to the back of the teeth), and clear aligners (like Invisalign). Although there are several options out there, there will be a best option for you. Each appliance system has its pros and cons. Ask your orthodontist to explain the pros and cons for each option so you feel comfortable with your treatment expectations and clear up any confusion on why a certain type of braces may not be in your best interest.
How long will I have to wear braces?
Treatment time ranges are highly patient specific. The average treatment is about 16 – 24 months. Time length is influenced by how much crowding or spacing is present, bite alignment that needs to be achieved, and patient age. Adult patients will typically have longer treatment times than adolescent patients for correction of the same issue.
How long do I have to wear retainers, and what type of retainers do you provide?
Each orthodontist may have his/her own philosophy on how often, how long, and what type of retainers they provide. Typically, for the first six months, you need to wear them full-time until the bone around the teeth has become hard again. After six months, nightly wear should keep your teeth stable. You will also have to wear a retainer periodically throughout your life—you will never be too old that your teeth will not shift. Many doctors only provide removable retainers while some place permanent bonded retainers, which eliminate the need to wear removable ones. You need to find out before starting treatment what type of retainer you will be given versus the one you wish to have. It’s not very enjoyable at the end of treatment to ask for one style of retainer when that doctor does not use that type.
How much does treatment cost, and what other fees could I incur during treatment?
Cost is another highly variable factor. It can depend on the length of treatment, type of appliances used, type of retainers provided, chair time amount spent with the doctor, and insurance benefits. Although it is NOT recommend to price shop orthodontic offices and choose the cheapest option, it IS recommended that you ask more questions about what your fees will cover. Many offices have all-encompassing fees that cover any costs incurred during your treatment. However, other offices have separate fees for records, office visits, emergency visits, retainers, lab appliances fabricated, broken brackets or appliances, missed appointments, follow-up visits with retainers, new retainers, transfer of treatment to another orthodontist, or treatments that extend beyond the original estimated length. Adding up all the extra fees can quickly increase the overall cost of your treatment. Offices use different types of braces that also can factor into your overall price of treatment. Also, take into account how large the office is and how many patients are seen per day to give you an idea on how much one-on-one time you will spend with the doctor versus the staff at each visit. Being able to spend more time with your doctor during your treatment can be an oversight if you are focusing only on price.