In most locations in the United States, there is competition among Orthodontists. We try to put our best effort in making a parent/patient comfortable about their decision in who is going to provide them with orthodontic services. To determine what this group of consumers were valuing the most and the criteria that they were using, I collected data from parents with a small survey. The survey asked the person to list 10 items in order of importance to them. Listed below, in order of most importance to least, are the Top 10 Reasons consumers chose their orthodontist.
#1 Doctor’s Credentials
This was the number one in our survey and it should be. Make sure you are going to an orthodontic specialist. An orthodontic specialist is a dentist who has gone two to three years of extra training after dental school. They receive their Masters of Science in orthodontics. In the United States, a good source to find an orthodontist in your area is by searching the American Association of Orthodontists’ website (Click Here).
#2 Flexible Financing
Most orthodontic offices offer many ways to pay for treatment like credit cards, third party credit, in-house payment plans and pay as you go. Some offer a discount if the fee is paid in full at the beginning of treatment. Most patients/parents opt to use an in-house payment plan where the cost of treatment is spread out over several months. An office who is flexible with it’s fee schedule of payments, like a low beginning down payment, will see an increase in acceptance in starting treatment. Some offices are very strict with their in-house fee schedule. You won’t know what they offer until you ask.
#3 Year’s of Experience
You can ask your orthodontist or a staff member over the phone how long the doctor has been in practice. It is true that the skill sets of diagnosing and perfecting treatment is mastered over time. In a multi-group practice, where there are more than one orthodontist at that location, you may need to ask if are you going to see the same doctor throughout treatment. Continuity of care can suffer if you see different doctors throughout treatment.
#4 Doctor Communicates Well
I had a parent state to me that they don’t do business with people who don’t look them in the eye. Communication is very important in the process of providing orthodontic treatment. There should be a consultation at the beginning of treatment and progress reports throughout the treatment process. The orthodontist has to get Informed Consent from the patient or legal guardian. Informed Consent is when an orthodontist explains the treatment in layman’s terms so the patient can decide to consent to treatment or decline. We have to give all aspects and outcomes of treatment so that the patient can make an informed decision.
#5 Office Location / Convenience
This is a big factor for a lot of parents. Most orthodontists have multiple office locations for this reason. The orthodontist usually places their office in a location next to large subburbs so that the drive will not be far for their parents.
#6 Friendly Staff
It is true that the staff takes on the personality of the orthodontist. If the orthodontist is smug, uppity and looks down on people, the staff will think this is acceptable and will do the same. Most orthodontic staff are very extrovert and pleasant to be around.
#7 References from Friends, Co-Workers, etc,
Coming in at #7 is referrals from friends and co-workers. Potential consumers of orthodontic treatment look at all factors and sometimes rely on experiences people have at their orthodontic offices. This is important because the treatment is usually over a long period of time.
#8 Flexible Office Schedule
Find out what times the office is open. This can change during the year and most offices are closed on a Monday, Wednesday or Friday. They usually work four days a week. Some offices open early or have evening hours. If the office is not a main office and is a satellite office, it may have a very limited time that it is open, maybe just one day a week.
#9 Office Décor
How the office looks can be a factor is choosing an orthodontist. Most orthodontic offices are very well kept and modern. Over time, an orthodontist who has been in practice for a number of years can allow the office to become dated as certain color schemes go out of style.
#10 Community Involvement
I thought with would be high on the list but it came in dead last and I am surprised. Many times when I am at a ball field, I look at the billboard ads placed along the fence to see who is active in the community. At community plays, I look at the sponsors in the program. I look at who are business partners with the local schools. I believe a lot of good can be said for any orthodontist or business who is involved in their community and supports it. In turn, I support them.
There are the top ten reasons a parent/patient chose their orthodontist. You may agree with some and maybe put them in a different order. The best thing to do when finding an orthodontist is go with your gut feelings. You need to be comfortable and feel confident in your orthodontist. If you have selected an orthodontist specialist who is very accessible, communicates well, referred by friends and has a friendly staff, I think you have chosen wisely.