The United State is the land of options. Especially in Orange County and even Irvine the options for anything you can think of are beyond numerous. I've always wondered why people choose Target over Wal-Mart or Costco over Sam's Club and vice versa. So I always think to myself, without bias, what should be people look for when choosing an orthodontist? In Irvine there are four within one block of each other!?
An orthodontist is a practitioner unlike any other. It's a long term commitment and relationship that can last anywhere between 6 months to 3 plus years and you are going to the office every 4-8 weeks. Besides palliative care in the medical field there is not another health field where the relationship is that long. So really, for lack of better words, you need to find someone you are willing to "marry" for an average of 2 years or more if you have more children.
So here is a list of what I consider important in no specific order. Each depends on what you are looking for and not every orthodontist is a perfect fit for you or your family.
Convenience: You will be seeing us about every four to eights weeks. Is the commute convenient, is the office close to your house, can you run errands if the appointments are long etc. Can my child walk there or bike there.
Trust: Is the orthodontist trust worthy. Do you believe in what the doctor is telling you? Does the treatment coincide with the most current research and is it evidence based. Is the office too "salesy" or do they have your best interest as top priority. Tough questions...but ones you'll have to figure out.
Personality: Does you are your child like this doctor? Can you build a relationships with the doctor and is he/she personable and polite enough to answer my questions and address my concerns. Does my child like him/her? You are going to be around the orthodontist for 2+ years so that's important!
Credentials: Is the orthodontist a SPECIALIST or a General Dentist that does orthodontics? You can look on the AAO website and if they are member of the AAO then they are usually an orthodontist that has gone through three years of training to specifically straighten teeth. It's a lot harder than most dentists think so make sure the orthodontist is a certified specialist, meaning they came from an accredited program. All orthodontists are dentists but dentists are not orthodontists.
One or multiple doctors: There are many ways to skin a cat. Having multiple doctors can be confusing as each can have different opinions so I would sway from a group practice multi doctor office. No one cares as much for patients as much as a single owner and orthodontist of the office IMO so you will get the best care from a solo practitioner. For large corporate office chains the doctors do change often so be weary of that and ask if you decide to go to one.
Reputation: Are there any bad history or online reviews on the doctor or the office? Ask your friends and family who they use...friend can be the best sources. Any negative reviews. I know negative reviews can be very biased but they do mean something. Yelp and Google reviews can be helpful!
Staff: The staff is a reflection upon the practice. You are going to be scheduling appointments making payments and asking the staff questions. Do they reflect well upon the practice. Sometimes I hear my wife say, "I love the doctor but I can't stand the receptionist." For other health professions would say "if you like the doctor just suck it up a couple times." For orthodontists, you are going to be making at least 18 plus appointments... do you really want to have a negative expererience every time you make an appointment?
Office cleanliness: Does the office use sterile instruments and is it clean? It's scary what goes on behind closed doors so check out the sterilization area. Make sure all the instruments are sterilized and in pouches before they go into you or your loved ones mouths.
Office protocol: Is the office smooth flowing or does it seem like everyone is flustered? Good chemistry usually means that things run smoothly and everyone knows what they are doing, especially the orthodontist.
Availability of the doctor: Is the doctor available to answer questions conveniently or is he/she behind and impenetrable wall where only a death will bring them out. Sometimes it's better to hear things from the doc than a receptionist and the doctor should be available.
Hours: Is the office open most days of the week and do the hours fit within your schedule.
Insurance: Do they accept your insurance. HMO and PPO are very different. If you have an HMO you may need a referral from your general dentist to find an in network provider so double check. (To be discussed in another blog! A whole different ball game!)
Treatment Cost: I put this last on purpose! It is usually number one on everyone's list for orthodontic treatment and I fully understand orthodontic treatment is an investment. It's taken me awhile but I'm slowly learning you get what you pay for. I pay for an Apple product because it suits my needs so I am willing to pay more. I pay more for organic food in the hopes it is safer for my children. So in the same token, you pay more for and orthodontist that has your goals in the treatment and can provide you the service you desire. It's a short term investment for a long term benefit. If you need financing find an orthodontist with flexible payment plans and options to suit your needs.
You can visit our office anytime and test us! Simply Orthodontics will pass all these tests with flying colors! Hope you see you soon!