Part One: Evaluate the Office
An orthodontic consultation is your first visit to an orthodontist’s office. Two important things should happen during this visit:
ONE: You should evaluate the orthodontic office, the staff, and the orthodontist to determine if it’s a good fit for you and your child.
TWO: The orthodontist will evaluate your or your child’s bite, skeletal structure, and face to see if orthodontic treatment is necessary.
How to Evaluate an Orthodontic Office at the First Visit
Every orthodontic practice may appear similar, but each is actually unique. Sometimes the biggest differences are things you don’t think to look for or ask about when you’re there. Here’s a list of things to consider when you’re at an orthodontic consultation and how to evaluate the orthodontist the office and the treatment.
When you call the office, does a person or machine answer the phone? Of course, it’s preferable to speak directly to a staff member who can answer your questions or find answers quickly.
Next, consider the office location. Is it convenient? If you work, think about getting your child from school to the orthodontist’s office and back to school or home, then going back to work. Having an office that’s close to work, school, and home is important.
Is there convenient parking and plenty of it? Make sure there’s ample parking for the bigger vehicles that most families drive.
Are there multiple locations? Many orthodontists have several locations for patient convenience. Check to see if you can visit the location that’s more convenient to you on any given day. Is there an office closer to work, home, and school? (For instance, in the summer, you may want to visit the office closer to your work, while during the school year you probably want to go to the office closer to the school your child attends.)
Next, and this is important, does the orthodontist own the practice? If yes, then know that you’re the highest priority and the orthodontist answers only to you. If the answer is no and the orthodontist works for a corporation or another dentist, he or she answers first to the business they work for, not the patient. There’s not quite the same level of service and attention to the patients when the orthodontist does not own the practice.
When you arrive at the office and before the orthodontist sees you, does the office take free x-rays and photos? Most orthodontic offices include this in the free exam because it helps the orthodontist with accurate diagnoses and treatment discussions with the patient. These images help the orthodontist make an accurate case assessment.
If treatment is recommended, does the office offer interest-free financing? Do they check your insurance benefits beforehand or while you’re at the appointment? Will the office file your insurance claim and accept the assignment of benefits to keep your costs as low as possible? Are the payments handled by the office or are they outsourced to a third party? If handled in the office, you will always be able to reach someone in the office with questions about payments, insurance, insurance changes, or financing. At McDonald Orthodontics, we will file your insurance, take an assignment of benefits, and we handle financing in the office.
It Should Be the Start of a Great Relationship
To sum it all up, the relationship you form with an orthodontist can last a year or longer, and it may span many years if you have multiple children. Before engaging in this relationship, you need to get the full picture of what an office is all about. Many of the characteristics mentioned in this article can be determined at the initial consultation if you’re prepared and thinking about what to look for and what to ask.