What You Need To Know Step By Step
Are you wondering how the process of getting braces works?
If you are looking to improve your smile with braces, this article will walk you through the process of how to get braces.
Don’t start your treatment before reading this step by step guide to getting braces on!
I firmly believe that patients should not get braces without knowing what to expect with the process of starting a braces treatment. A more informed patient is a happier patient at the beginning and the end!
By the end of this article, you will be fully informed about the beginning of the braces journey; from the decision to start treatment to the moment that you are ready to get your braces on!
10 Steps To Getting Braces
- Make The Decision
- Speak To Your Dentist or Pediatric Dentist
- Finding An Orthodontist
- Scheduling A Braces Consultation
- Deciding On A Treatment Plan
- Alternative Treatment Plans and No Treatment
- Paying For Braces
- Orthodontic Insurance
- Discounts On Getting Braces
- Orthodontic Contracts and Consent Forms
1 Make The Decision
Making the decision to get braces is the first step in this amazing journey! However, it is the most difficult step.
Due to a lot of bad information, the process of getting braces has been difficult to grasp for many patients. This misinformation scares potential patients from starting treatment.
However, we encourage parents and patients. with clear, honest information based around the many benefits of treatment. Also, we make sure to educate and prepare patients for the challenges ahead in the braces journey. Without a doubt, there are some challenges with going through braces. Preparation is a big key to making sure that getting braces is a smooth process.
Overall, the benefits of treatment far outweigh the negatives, and this should help make your decision easier. Getting starting with braces will begin your journey to straighter teeth, a better bite, decreased TMJ symptoms, improved speech, cleaner teeth and a big boost in self-confidence!
So be comfortable in your decision to put on braces! Your investment in yourself or your child will pay itself off and last you a lifetime!
Here are important factors to consider with your decision to get braces.
- Doctor and staff
- Doctor’s experience
- Office online reviews
- Patient Testimonials
- Doctor treatment philosophy
- Office location
- Office hours and availability
- Weekend appointments
- Treatment fees
- Payment plans
- Insurance the office accepts
- Zero-interest financing options
This list doesn’t address all the factors that you should consider before making the decision to get braces. However, it will give you a good baseline to compare apples to apples when choosing an office to start your braces.
“You don’t have to choose the first office that you have a consultation at. Make sure to do your research so you can decide on the best office for you and your family”
“You don’t have to choose the first office that you have a consultation at. Make sure to do your research so you can decide on the best office for you and your family”
2 Speak To Your Dentist About Getting Braces
Speaking with your general dentist or your child’s pediatric dentist is an important step in the process of getting braces.
Your dentist is well trained to spot initial problems in tooth development and jaw growth. Additionally, a well-versed dentist can help adults identify trouble spots with cleaning, gum disease or TMJ that might be improved with straighter teeth.
Even when your dentist doesn’t know exactly what needs to be done with braces or aligners, they know to refer you to a specialist that can manage your problem.
In some dental offices, your dentist may offer orthodontic solutions to correct easier problems. For easy cases, these solutions may include clear aligners (Invisalign, ClearCorrect) and limited braces treatments. You will want to make sure to evaluate your dentist’s experience with orthodontic treatment to make sure that you will get the best care.
In tougher cases, it is best to be referred to a specialist that can properly navigate the ins and outs of a complicated treatment. The staff of your dental office can offer you a list of the orthodontists that they routinely refer patients to for braces and aligner therapy.
3 Finding An Orthodontist
Finding an orthodontist that you like and trust is important when getting braces. Even if you are referred to a specific office by your dental professional, you still should make sure that the doctor and office fit your needs.
Ways To Search For An Orthodontist
- Facebook Groups
- Friends and Family
- Insurance Provider List
- Employer Human Resources Department
- Local Chamber of Commerce
There are many factors that should go into your decision of orthodontist that you choose. You should consider the following:
- Office reviews
- Doctors experience
- Types of treatment offered
- Chair-side manner
- How they treat their office staff
- Cleanliness of the office
- Customer service level of the staff
- Schedule and availability
- Financial plans and flexibility
There’s no particular order that these factors fall in. You should rank them accordingly, based on what is important to you and your family’s needs.
ProTip: If you currently have braces on and are trying to find an orthodontist to transfer your treatment to, check out our post “The Complete Guide To Transfer Orthodontic Treatment“.
4 Scheduling A Braces Consultation
A braces consultation is the most important step in the process of getting braces. The information that you gather in your initial consult will help you decide if the office is the right fit for you. This consultation is your chance to meet your treating orthodontist face to face. Gather as much information in this step as you can and be sure to have all of your questions answered.
Before your consult check out our related post titled “Braces Consultation: 21 Must Ask Questions” to give you ideas of questions to ask.
Generally, an orthodontic consultation will begin by meeting the Treatment Coordinator. This staff member will take the orthodontist’s official diagnosis and treatment plan and rephase it in easy to digest layman’s terms. Your Treatment Coordinator may also call up other staff to take pictures, x-rays or a digital scan at the orthodontist’s request.
Next, you will meet with your orthodontist! After a brief introduction, your orthodontist should take the time to listen to your needs and desires as a patient. This is a very important moment, as your proposed treatment plan should reflect your wishes as a patient.
Finally, the doctor will take a look at your teeth, bite, oral hygiene. An assessment of your jaw structure will also be noted. Any x-rays that were taken will be reviewed for impactions or pathologies of the jaw bone.
The orthodontist will put all this information together and will talk to you about what problems you have and the ideal treatment to correct it. This is called your treatment plan.
A good orthodontist will give you a problem list and one treatment plan.
The best orthodontists will give you an ideal treatment plan and alternative treatment plans to reach your goal of getting braces.
Here is what you can expect to take away from your braces consult:
- General opinion of the office and office staff
- Initial feel for the orthodontist, chair-side manner, and treatment philosophy
- Problem list of everything that will be treated
- Treatment plan mapping out how your problem list will be treated
- Treatment alternatives including no treatment
By the end of your consult to get the braces process started, you will have received a lot of information. In fact you may feel completely overwhelmed!
This is okay! Take a few days to digest the information and begin to educate yourself with the wealth of information that you have been given.
5 Deciding On A Treatment Plan
Deciding on an orthodontic treatment plan before getting braces is a big step in the process, but with thorough explanation and trust in your orthodontist, this can be one of the quicker steps in the braces process.
If your treatment is simple in nature, deciding on a treatment plan may not be a big decision for you. In this situation, you may be able to quickly make a decision and be able to start your braces the same day! This is really easy if you have made a great connection with the orthodontist and staff already!
If your treatment is difficult in nature, you may need some extra time to make a decision. If your treatment involves extractions, additional appliances, missing or impacted teeth, extensive general dental work or jaw surgery you may need to sleep on your decision. Slowing down the process of starting braces at this point is ok.
Orthodontists understand the magnitude of the treatment decision. Most offices will not pressure you into making a decision to start right away if you are not comfortable. The offices that do pressure you, are probably not the best fit for you.
When making a decision on your orthodontic treatment plan, be sure to take your time and get all the relevant information. Feel confident in the decision for you or your family!
6 Alternative Treatment Plans and No Treatment
Alternative treatment plans exist in orthodontics. Rarely is there only one way to solve a list of orthodontic problems.
Orthodontists will always create an ideal treatment plan. The ideal treatment plan will offer you the solution that solves all of your problems in the most efficient, aesthetic and stable way. This plan will always address your chief complaint and aims to finish your teeth, bite, TMJ joint and muscles, and jawbones in ideal positions.
But what if ideal is not achievable? If age, time or finances prevent you from achieving your ideal final result, you will be presented with alternative treatment plans. Alternative treatment plans help you achieve your treatment goals as best as possible.
Your ability to select an alternative treatment is based on a very important concept called Patient Autonomy.
Patient Autonomy is defined as “the right of patients to make decisions about their medical care without their health care provider trying to influence the decision. Patient autonomy does allow for health care providers to educate the patient but does not allow the health care provider to make the decision for the patients. (source)
All medical professionals respect this right and take patient autonomy very seriously. Therefore, it is our duty to present alternative treatment plans to our patients.
A little known alternative treatment option is No Treatment. This is a viable alternative treatment when treating a potential patient may result in more harm than good. In situations like this, getting braces may not be the proper treatment for you. However, all is not lost and you should seek professional advice from your general dentist who can create an overall gameplan for your oral health.
7 Paying For Braces
Paying for braces can be accomplished in many ways. Financing braces is generally the first major concern and the last major hurdle for most families.
Orthodontic treatment is provided by highly-trained specialists that use modern technology to provide you with a high level of service. Ample staffing and supplies are also required to deliver this service. You can now see why the price of orthodontic care can be very expensive.
However, finding a way to help patients pay for and get braces can be the difference in the office that you choose.
After deciding on a treatment plan, you will meet with the office’s Financial Coordinator. This staff member’s job is to help make treatment affordable for you.
The Financial Coordinator will review your treatment and associated fees in a line item style break down. Your fees should cover your consultation, orthodontic records, getting your braces on, monthly adjustments, taking your braces off, retainers and retainer checks. If you have been given any discounts on treatment, they will be discussed with the Financial Coordinator as well.
Braces and other orthodontic services will never be cheap! As a patient you should be suspicious when you see a fee that looks extremely low. If the fee is too good to be true, it probably is. You may be hit with hidden fees, interest or back-end fees when it’s time to get your braces off. You want to avoid this at all costs!
Most offices will offer a standard selection of ways to pay for your braces.
- Payment in Full
- Third Party Financing
- In-Office Financing
8 Orthodontic Insurance
Orthodontic insurance can be very helpful with the out of pocket expense for braces. The benefit amount that you receive from your insurance can vary from plan to plan. However, a benefit amount of $1000-1500 is common. Some of the best insurance may cover up to $2500!
There are two very important concepts to understand with regard to orthodontic insurance benefits:
- Orthodontic insurance benefits will cover a portion of your treatment fee. The remainder is the patient’s co-pay or patient share.
- Orthodontic insurance benefits are paid once per lifetime. This means that once you exhaust your insurance benefit, it does not renew the following new year. It is only paid once per lifetime.
- Orthodontic insurance benefits cover a percentage of your treatment up to a maximum lifetime benefit. This means that you may not be able to use your entire benefit. if the percentage of coverage is less than your maximum benefit amount.
Sounds confusing? Unfortunately, it is.
Here are 3 examples of how this applies to real life.
Example 1: You can use your entire benefit amount
Your treatment fee is $5000. Your insurance benefit covers 50% of your treatment fee, up to a maximum benefit of $1500. 50% of your treatment fee is $2500. Since the covered amount is great than your benefit, you will exhaust your entire benefit of $1500. This will leave you with a co-pay or patient share of $3500.
Example 2: You can’t use your entire benefit amount
Your treatment fee is $2500. Your insurance benefit cover 50% of your treatment fee, up to a maximum benefit of $1500. 50% of your treatment fee is $1250. Since the covered amount is less than your benefit, you will not be able to use your entire $1500 benefit. This will leave you with a co-pay or patient share of $1250.
Example 3: Your insurance covers your entire treatment amount
Your treatment fee is $4000. Your insurance covers 100% of your treatment fee, up to a maximum benefit of $5000. 100% of your treatment fee is $4000. Since the covered portion is less than your benefit, you will not be able to use your entire $5000 benefit. However, your entire treatment cost will be covered! This leaves you with a co-pay or patient share of $0. Awesome!
Understanding orthodontic insurance benefits and maximums can be tricky. However, a knowledgeable and honest Treatment Coordinator can verify your benefits and obtain a Pre-Treatment Estimate from your insurance carrier. This estimate will detail your benefits, maximums and out of pocket costs for your proposed treatment plan. (https://www.deltadentalins.com/individuals/guidance/predeterminations.html)
Be suspicious of offices that bend the rules with insurance benefits. It may seem like a great deal when you sign your itemized financial plan with an over-estimated insurance portion. However, these offices may bill the insurance company inaccurately. This is committing insurance fraud.
Or when the insurance company does not pay the “estimate insurance benefit” the office adds this unpaid portion back to your patient share. This isa highly unethical practice.
You do not want to spend your hard earned with a business that conducts their business like this.
9 Discounts On Getting Braces
Everyone LOVES a deal! Getting a deal while getting braces is no exception! Many offices offer discounts on braces treatments.
Here are a few common discounts you may see for orthodontic treatment
Pay In Full Discount
This will be a 5-10% discount on your total fee as an incentive for paying your treatment in full when you start treatment. Cash is King and paying in full will give you the most leverage to negotiate a discount amount for your treatment.
Multi Sibling Discount
Every office wants the 2nd or 3rd child to start treatment in the practice. Because of this, you will find a healthy 5-10% discount on your 2nd child in treatment.
New Patient Discount
New patient discounts are the most common discounts offered as practices try to attract potential patients who are unfamiliar with their practice and offerings.
This won’t be a discount on the price of your braces, but an offer of a value-added item when you start your treatment. These items can be a free electric toothbrush, whitening kit, or an extra set of retainers after your treatment.
Seasonal discounts typically come in the form of promotion around holidays such as Christmas, Valentine’s Day or Back to School Season. These will vary in the amount at each office.
Black Friday Sale Discount
Black Friday Shopping is HUGE and orthodontists are finally jumping on the opportunity! You can find prices slashed up to 50% off the normal fees! Although these prices are incredible, they are usually limited in quantity so grab these deals fast!
Down Payment Match Discount
Down Payment Match Discounts are common in the automotive industry but really haven’t been used much in orthodontics. However, if you find such a deal take advantage of the opportunity! You are generally going to have to make a down payment at every office. So if you can score a discount on your treatment that is equal to your downpayment, it would be a win-win.
10 Orthodontic Contracts and Consent Forms
Contracts and consent forms will be signed after all negotiations are complete, but before your braces are put on. This must be done to protect you as a patient and to make sure that you are receiving exactly what you negotiated.
There are multiple forms that you will need to sign. Read each form thoroughly and ask questions about anything that may be confusing or that you don’t understand. Once you sign on the dotted line, these become legally binding documents that are fully enforceable by law.
Be sure to name and date each form that you sign. Do not rely on the office staff to complete this. Double-check for pages that need initials on line items or highlighted areas.
Here are examples of the potential contracts and consent forms that you may need to review and sign before getting braces on:
- Financial Contracts- the line item breakdown of all fees and estimated insurance coverage associated with your treatment.
- In-house Financing Contracts- Financing terms, interest and payment information for in-house financing with your orthodontist
- 3rd Party Financing Contracts- Financing terms, interest and payment information for 3rd party financing (CareCredit, Lending Club)
- Financial Addendums- Special terms or additional financial agreements between you and the orthodontic practice
- Informed Consent To Treat – Consent to begin treatment knowing all possible risks and complications with treatment
- Periodontal Clearance and Consent- Consent given by a general dentist or periodontist to begin treatment with a stable Periodontal disease diagnosis
- Clear Aligner Therapy Consent- Consent specific to clear aligner therapy and all associated risks and complications with treatment
- Dental Photography Consent- Consent to capture dental/treatment specific photographs for use in accordance with HIPAA
- Social Media and Marketing Consent- Consent to capture photographs and video to be used on various social media and other marketing platforms
- Compromised Treatment Consent- Consent to begin treatment that will not finish ideally
Contracts and consent forms are the last and final formality in the process of getting braces. By this point, you should be very comfortable with who is treating you, your chosen treatment plan and your financial arrangement for braces.
Cross your t’s, dot your i’s and sign on the dotted line! It’s finally time to put your braces on! Yay!
Getting braces on is exciting! With careful research and consideration, you can expect to get your braces on and begin to build confidence and self-esteem that will stay with you for a lifetime.
Refer back to this article as a guide when you need to review the steps to getting braces. If you get stuck at a step or don’t feel comfortable, come back to this article to see what you should do next or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to help you navigate the braces process.
In summary, now you know the 10 steps that happen before you get braces!
Hopefully, this article has provided you with the resources and tools needed to educate you about starting braces.
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