The Importance of Seeking a Second Opinion from an Orthodontist
Written by: Dr. Oleg Drut, Diamond Braces Chief Clinical Officer
Date: November 19, 2020
Looking for orthodontic care? Finding a great orthodontist is key to achieving the best results for your smile.
Whether it’s braces or Invisalign clear aligners, orthodontic care is an investment in your lifelong health, happiness, and confidence. Just like you’d want to choose the best surgeon for your surgery or the best contractor to build your family’s house, you want to find an experienced, talented orthodontist with demonstrated success to straighten your teeth and correct your bite.
Selecting an orthodontist isn’t a decision to rush: instead, take the time to consult with several orthodontists and compare your options. Each orthodontist you visit will examine your teeth, give you their assessment of your diagnosis and treatment recommendations, and provide a general quote for the cost of care.
Many offices offer the first consultation without any cost commitments, so you can visit and compare opinions and quotes from several orthodontists before making your final decision.
Read on for tips on how to find a quality orthodontist, to be sure you’re making the right choice for your healthy, beautiful smile.
Why Should You Get a Second Opinion for Braces or Invisalign Treatments?
The importance of second opinions in medical care is well documented. According to Yale Medicine, a 2017 study showed that 21% of patients who received a second opinion ended up with a new diagnosis, and 66% of diagnoses were refined by the second opinion.
Orthodontic treatment is medical care: orthodontists are doctors who study for nearly a decade to master the arts of dental alignment and oral health. And just like medical doctors, orthodontists often come to differing conclusions about a patient’s diagnosis and the proper course of treatment. They may have different recommendations for the appliance used in treatment, as well as the necessary length of treatment and the costs for care.
In addition, not all orthodontists use the same methods, utilize the same advanced technology, or have the same amount of experience with each appliance. For instance, a certain orthodontist may not recommend Invisalign removable clear aligners, not because they won’t work for your diagnosis but because that doctor isn’t experienced and comfortable with that appliance. Getting a second opinion from an experienced Invisalign provider will allow you to feel confident that you’re getting the most informed recommendation for your smile care.
Cost matters, too: the price of orthodontic care varies depending on treatment method, the severity of your case, where in the country you seek treatment, and the experience of your doctor. Getting a second opinion and a second quote (or more!) will help you determine the reasonable cost of your smile care, to avoid being overcharged, or paying too little for inferior service.
Does Insurance Cover a Second Orthodontist’s Opinion?
Insurance coverage for orthodontic care depends on your specific dental provider and whether they cover braces or clear aligner treatment. As for a second opinion for orthodontic diagnosis and treatment, that also depends on your insurance provider, and whether you’ll be using a PPO plan, health savings account, flexible spending account, or another kind of plan.
If you’re planning on using your insurance for your orthodontic care, find out directly from your provider about whether they will cover consultations and diagnosis from more than one orthodontist.
However, initial consultations are often complementary, to give you a chance to meet the orthodontist and learn more about your dental condition before committing to treatment. When you schedule an appointment, ask beforehand whether the visit comes at no charge to you, and what documents (eg, insurance info) you’ll need to provide in order to come in for a visit.
How to Find the Right Orthodontist
Wherever you live in the United States, there are likely at least a few choices for orthodontic care in your area. While you can visit every orthodontist in the region to compare, you can save time and energy by following these tips to find the highest-quality orthodontists near you.
Look for Orthodontists in Free-Standing Orthodontic Facilities
While orthodontists may work in a general dentist’s office, you’ll likely save money and receive more experienced, efficient care at a dedicated orthodontics office.
This is because orthodontists in a general dentistry practice are likely only there a few days a week, making them less available for emergency care. If you have an orthodontic emergency and the doctor isn’t working that day, you will likely have to wait until they are back in the office to be seen. A part-time orthodontist will also likely have a lower patient volume, making them less experienced with the various methods of care.
In addition, a general dentist office uses their equipment for a variety of treatments and services, so are less likely to have dedicated orthodontic equipment, such as an iTero digital scanner for predictive modeling.
Finally, continuity of care can be a problem for orthodontic patients at a general dentist’s office: if the only orthodontist leaves the practice during your 2-4 years of treatment, you’ll need to go elsewhere to finish your care, which can disrupt or slow down the process.
For these reasons, seek an orthodontist in a free-standing orthodontic facility, with state-of-the-art orthodontic equipment, and a team of expert, proven orthodontists.
Check What’s Included in the Price for Braces or Invisalign Treatment
When you’re comparing quotes at different orthodontic practices, be sure to find out what’s included in the price. Similar numbers can mean vastly different things when it comes to the various costs included in orthodontic care.
Ask whether the following are included in the price tag:
- Emergency visits
- Replacement Invisalign aligners
- Replacement brackets for braces
- Follow-up visit
- Lifetime Smile Guarantee
Retainers can make the biggest difference in price: when not included, retainers can cost up to $1,000 or more, so finding an orthodontist that includes them in the original cost will go a long way in saving you money while achieving the best results for your smile.
Look for Clean, Modern, and Professional Orthodontic Offices
You may not be an orthodontic expert, but you know what a professional office should look like! When visiting the office for your initial consultation, keep a lookout for signs that the office is clean and up-to-date with equipment and instruments.
A professional, hygienic orthodontic office should look like this:
In addition, the staff should be wearing proper safety equipment, and have their hair and jewelry out of the way and tucked back. A Professional orthodontic team should look like this:
If you see broken equipment, old or rusty tools, noticeable grime on the floor, walls, or equipment, or the staff isn’t dressed appropriately, move on to the next office: you’re getting an indication of just how much that office really values your smile.
Friendliness matters, too: you’ll be visiting this office and receiving care from this orthodontic team for 1-4 years, so you want to make sure you enjoy the visits! Ask questions and get to know the team while you’re there: if the vibe is friendly, welcoming, and informative, that’s a great sign about the kind of orthodontic care they can offer you.
Check Google Reviews and Other Customer Review Sites
While you should never rely completely on online reviews, you can learn a lot more about a company from what the patients say about their experience. Read good and bad reviews, to find out what people are saying.
If you have a question about a particularly negative review, ask about it: a quality orthodontic practice will be able to explain the situation and inform you on what measures were taken to correct it. And keep a lookout for bad reviews that encourage you to visit another orthodontic office: these are likely fake reviewers paid by competitors to steal business.
Find a Diamond or Diamond Plus Invisalign Provider
If you’re planning on straightening your teeth with Invisalign removable clear aligners, then be sure to find the most experienced Invisalign provider in your area. Invisalign ranks orthodontists on their Invisalign experience and volume of patients treated with this method. Highly ranked Invisalign providers are not only the most experienced with this complex treatment appliance, but they also receive discounted prices on lab production costs, which saves their patients money.
To find the highest-ranked Invisalign providers in your area, you can use Invisalign’s Find a Doctor tool.
At the end of the day, where you choose to go for smile care is up to you. But with knowledge, patience, and curiosity, you can feel great about the orthodontic provider you select for your braces or Invisalign treatment!