How to Choose an Orthodontist

As a NYC orthodontist, I know choosing the right doctor to straighten your teeth is a serious investment. After all, braces and treatment plans take time and can cost a sizable amount of money. It is important to work with dental specialists who will be honest, professional, and understand how to quickly and correctly align teeth. Your relationship with an orthodontist could last months or years. Thus, one should trust their orthodontist. The right doctor can align teeth, answer any and all questions, and can actually save a person a lot of time and energy. The following are some tips for how to choose an orthodontist.

Research Orthodontic Offices

The only way to select the right orthodontist is to do your homework. This means conducting a comprehensive internet search to see which professionals are in your geographic area. You will see everything from where different groups are located to the services they provide. For example, one orthodontist may offer Invisalign in Manhattan as a treatment option and another may not. At this point, I recommend generating a list of orthodontic offices and visit their web sites more information on the types of braces offered. Today, most orthodontic practices offer traditional braces, Damon, and Invisalign. From here, your list of orthodontists can get narrowed down according to their services, health insurance, rates, payment options, and more. Your due diligence should also include checking with the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) and The American Board of Orthodontics (ABO), in order to verify that you are working with a qualified orthodontist. You may find that certain dentists will offer to straighten your teeth for you using Invisalign. While dentists can complete a certification course to offer Invisalign, I highly suggest seeing an orthodontist who has undergone additional years of orthodontic training after completing dental school.

Get Referrals from Dentists

I see a lot of patients who come through dentists’ referrals in New York City. For instance, if you have a close relationship with your dentist, find out who they would recommend as a manhattan orthodontist. Your dentist can tell a person what to expect from orthodontic treatment. Dentists always have connections in the community and will know the reputations of different orthodontic professionals. This is your chance to get a referral to some of the most respected orthodontists where you live. It is important to ask your dentist about everything from the experts’ qualifications to their rates, accepted insurance, and billing practices. Also, discuss your current oral health and whether or not you are a candidate for braces. If your mouth is full of cavities and you have periodontal disease, you may want to deal with these issues beforehand and coordinate between your dentist and orthodontist.

Ask for Recommendations from Loved Ones

Friends, family members, neighbors, coworkers, and even acquaintances may have some helpful recommendations about where to turn for a skilled orthodontist. These recommendations are usually very honest. One can ask about everything from the location of the offices and the availability of parking to the orthodontist’s personality, rates, and style. This also gives you a first-hand look at the results of a former patient in some cases.

Scheduling Your First Visit

Certain orthodontic practices will charge a consultation fee for your first visit. Typically, this small amount will go toward the total cost of treatment, if you decide to work with the practice. Practices implement these fees to keep customers from shopping around. When scheduling your first visit, it is important that one makes sure that this is a no-obligation (no consult fee) consultation. However, established and higher volume orthodontic practices typically charge at least a small fee during the first office visit. Once you meet with the orthodontist, ask about the details of treatment, the cost of braces, what one can expect, payment plans, accepted insurance, and alternative treatment plans. It is appropriate to talk with the receptionist, get a feel for the office, and to even ask for before and after examples. Don’t be afraid to seek out more opinions, prices, and options before making a

Qualifications to Become an Orthodontist

When selecting an orthodontist, it is appropriate to research his or her training and certifications. Keep in mind, a general dentist cannot offer the same type of care as an orthodontist. Orthodontist have two or more years of additional hands-on training. Research where your prospective orthodontist attended dental school, the type of orthodontic training received after completing their DMD or DDS and where, and find out if they are active in the orthodontic community.

Orthodontist’s Office Hours and Location

Work with an orthodontist that is either is within where you reside or along your commute to work. Additionally, pay close attention to office hours of the orthodontist to see if they fit your schedule. No detail should be avoided. For example, ask about how appointments are scheduled and cancelled, protocols for dental emergencies, and how they will handle appointments if you plan to be out of town for a couple of months. Remember, seeing an orthodontist doesn’t have to be stressful and time consuming.

Insurance Coverage

Dental insurance will play a big role in orthodontist selection. Some plans will cover a certain percentage of orthodontic treatment. However, it is important to find orthodontists that accept one’s coverage. Additionally, some insurance providers may only cover certain professionals. Thus, reading up on one’s policy is incredibly important. Coverage could save people hundreds of dollars, if not more. Also, working with an orthodontic office experienced in dealing with insurance companies can be extremely helpful.

Payment Plans

The cost of orthodontic treatment is not cheap. First, the orthodontist will inspect the mouth and then explain different options, their costs, and the amount of time braces are needed. From here, one can determine how much is covered by an insurance plan versus out-of-pocket expenses. Orthodontists bill and receive payment in different ways. Some professionals will draft a payment plan over a number of months, require a down payment, or offer third-party financing. Usually, financing can be applied for in the orthodontist’s office, or he or she may have a list of resources for people to explore. Many offices will give you a pay-in-full option which will land you approximately 3-5% off the cost of treatment. You should seriously consider this route, if you have the cash available.

Final Thoughts

Pay close attention to your gut feeling. The office should be clean, the staff should be friendly, and the orthodontist should be transparent in the way the practice is run. If something puts you off, consider exploring other options. You shouldn’t see an orthodontist that makes a patient feel uncomfortable. If red flags appear, act accordingly by looking into another orthodontic practice. At the end of the day, your orthodontist can change your life for the better. Finding the right professional makes life easier and ultimately leads to a healthier, happier you.

Dr. Hung received his doctorate degree in Dental Medicine, master’s degree in Medical Science, and Certificate of Orthodontics at Harvard University School of Dental Medicine, all with honors. Additionally, Dr. Hung was awarded Harvard’s prestigious George R. Cadman Award for Clinical Excellence in Orthodontics.

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