If you’re thinking about straightening your teeth, you may have found that the web is full of helpful information from both clinicians and patients. However, while this is all very useful, it can’t compete with sitting down face-to-face with an orthodontist to discuss your own concerns and goals.
Because orthodontic treatment is tailored to each patient, all orthodontists will offer an initial consultation, so you can find out more about your options before taking the plunge.
The consultation process varies between orthodontists, but it typically involves an examination of your teeth and a discussion about your treatment. It’s a great opportunity to put all your questions to an expert, so preparation is key. We recommend writing your questions down, so nothing gets forgotten. To help you make a start, here are some useful questions that you may want to add to your list.
Which braces am I suitable for?
Most orthodontists will offer a choice of braces, including clear aligners, fixed braces and hidden lingual braces such as eBrace. You might already have a favourite, but it’s important to find out the options that best suit your teeth and lifestyle. Clear aligners, for example, are very discreet but there’s sometimes the temptation to keep taking them out. Your orthodontist will be able to talk you through the pros and cons of each option and show you examples of each brace.
How long will my treatment take?
Your orthodontist won’t be able to give you a definitive answer, but they should be able to give you a good estimate of how long your treatment will take. If you’re looking to have your treatment finished in time for a specific event, let them know during your consultation. If they have any concerns about meeting your deadline, they may recommend an ‘invisible’ brace such as eBrace.
Who will provide my treatment?
You might assume that the person you see for your consultation will carry out your treatment, but this isn’t always the case. Sometimes your treatment will be provided by another orthodontist, or an orthodontic therapist under the supervision of an orthodontist. Don’t be afraid to ask about the credentials of the person providing your treatment or even for the opportunity to meet them in person.
How often will I need to come in for check-ups?
Throughout your treatment, you’ll need to see your orthodontist for regular check-ups, so it’s important to find out how often these appointments will be and the availability of different days and times. If you have a busy schedule, it might be useful to find out whether you can book several appointments in advance.
What will the cost of my treatment include?
Following your consultation, you should receive a personalised quote for your orthodontic treatment. Make sure you’re completely clear about what this includes. Find out if there are any hidden costs that could crop up in the future, for example emergency appointments or replacement brackets.
Will I receive fixed or removable retainers – or both?
Retainers to hold your teeth straight after braces are so important that many orthodontists include them as standard. There two different types though – fixed and removable – so you should clarify which type is included with your package. Not everyone is suitable for both options, but if you are it’s a good way to protect yourself against the risk of orthodontic relapse.
Can you provide teeth whitening at the end of my treatment?
Teeth whitening is a great finishing touch to orthodontic treatment, and some orthodontists will be able to provide a home whitening kit at the end of your treatment. Even if teeth whitening isn’t something they offer, they’ll be able to point you in the direction of someone who can help – usually your own general dentist. Don’t take matters into your own hands – it’s illegal in the UK for anyone other than a registered dentist to supervise professional teeth whitening.
Do you offer any finance options?
A lot of technology, time and expertise will go into your orthodontic treatment and the results should last a lifetime, so while treatment can offer excellent value it’s not cheap. Many providers now offer a choice of finance options, allowing you to choose from interest-free and no deposit repayments. Following your consultation, you should receive a break-down of the different options available to you, helping you to compare the monthly costs and total amounts payable.
Following your consultation
Don’t be tempted to make a decision about treatment during your consultation. Take the time to go over all the information you receive and don’t be afraid to contact the practice with some more questions.
It can also be valuable to do your own desk research. You can check the credentials of your orthodontist via the General Dental Council website and find recent patient reviews via Google and Facebook.