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Complete Guide To Transfer Orthodontic Treatment

The Complete Guide to Transfer Orthodontic Treatment

Transfer Your Orthodontic Treatment Without The Hassle 


Patients needing to transfer orthodontic treatment mid-treatment is becoming more common. The American Association of Orthodontists estimates that close to 5 million people are in braces at any given moment. So this trend won’t be slowing down anytime soon as new patients begin to move, settle down, and look for orthodontic care.

American families are moving at an increasing rate due to a booming economy, job growth and low unemployment. A 2019 census.gov article states that in 2018, 10.1 percent of people (about 32.4 million) in the United States moved within the past 12 months. This means that many of the families that begin an orthodontic treatment move before their treatment has been completed.

While getting into orthodontic treatment can be easy, transferring your treatment to a new provider can be a stressful and frustrating process.  Let’s look at how transfers happen and the options if you find yourself in this stressful predicament and need to change orthodontists. Transfer your orthodontic treatment without the hassle!


complete guide to transferring orthodontic treatment

Common Reasons Why Patients Transfer Orthodontic Treatment

In certain circumstances an orthodontic treatment transfer may be voluntary and other times it will be completely out of your control. In either situation your best move is to plan out your next move which will help you decrease stress. This will also streamline the process of switching your orthodontists and finding a new provider. 

Families have different reasons for wanting to transfer orthodontic services. Here are the 6 most common reasons.

1 The Family Had To Move 

The most common reason that patients have to transfer orthodontic treatment is a move due to a job change or military reassignment.  Moving due to a job change or military reassignment presents its own set of challenges. Add in the task of finding and switching to an new orthodontist to transfer your case to will add more stress to an already stressful situation. 

2 Orthodontist Retired From Practicing

Many orthodontists enjoy long successful careers. But one day you may call to book an appointment only to discover that your orthodontist is retiring or otherwise closing up shop. Typically orthodontists will send out announcement letters or emails to current patients in preparation for a retirement event. This will give you a heads up and some time to start looking for an office to transfer your treatment to. In most cases, the retiring doctor may have already established a tentative practice where you can be seen for emergencies and to potentially transfer your case and switch orthodontists. 

3 Orthodontist Sold The Practice

Your orthodontist has spent a lifetime building a successful business and may sell the practice when an opportunity presents itself. When a practice sale does occur you may not be given a heads up and then entire process may feel abrupt. In this situation your selling orthodontist may be bound by a non disclosure agreement and may not be able to discuss plans to sell with current patients while the sale is pending. This can leave you as a patient feeling frustrated and left out of the loop.

4 Difference Of Opinion On Treatment Decisions

When you desire a different treatment decision than your orthodontist this friction may cause a strain in the patient provider relationship. If severe enough this strain can cause a loss of trust to such an extent that you want to part ways and transfer your orthodontic treatment.  As a patient you have the autonomy to make decisions about your healthcare without a healthcare provider trying to influence your decision.

This is a very important concept that both we as providers, and you as patients should respect. It is our duty to educate you using all of our training and knowledge, but not to make the decision for you. Through education and communication, you must see eye to eye with your provider or risk frustration regarding your treatment. Remember that patient autonomy means that you have the right to choose your own treatment, but it doesn’t mean that the orthodontist has to provide that treatment. If and when both parties are at a standstill, it’s best to part ways, move on and change orthodontists. 

5 Office Not Meeting Your Needs

If your office isn’t meeting your physical or emotional needs and you have discussed this with your current provider with no resolution, then you may consider transferring your treatment to another provider. Your orthodontic provider should be an active listener and sensitive to your physical needs while in the chair. The orthodontic journey is filled with emotional highs and lows and requires empathy and understanding from your provider.

While your complaints may seem like a pure sympathy play to a busy doctor, the active listening doctor will take your concerns seriously. The orthodontic journey can be very challenging for some patients. There are a range of emotions that a patient may experience in any given month during treatment and it is important to have a doctor and office staff that is willing to offer support.

6 Scheduling Conflicts 

Active families have active schedules and this fact can lead to scheduling conflicts with your orthodontic provider’s schedule. If there are major unresolvable scheduling conflicts with your current braces provider, you may consider switching orthodontists mid-treatment. Scheduling conflicts lead to missed appointments and missed appointments lead to extended treatment times which adds additional fees to your treatment. If you find that your schedule changes due to work, school or daycare you may experience scheduling conflicts that may cause you to miss appointments and delay your treatment. If this does happen, explore all of the potential scheduling solutions with your doctor.This is another common reason that patients transfer orthodontic services to a different provider.

When all else fails and you have exhausted all of your options, the next step is to begin the actual process of transferring services to a new braces doctor.


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The Transfer Process

The transfer process involves multiple moving parts that must be coordinated well to streamline the process and get you back on the road to a successful orthodontic treatment. The initial step in this transfer process is making the decision to transfer your treatment and switch orthodontists. 

Make The Decision To Switch Orthodontists

Making the decision will be the hardest part of the transfer process. Just like many things in life, the first step is the hardest one. Rest assured that once you make the decision you can really get the ball rolling and the transfer process started. 

Start with your current orthodontist to discuss your decision to transfer your treatment. The open dialogue and honest communication will go a long way towards making the entire process easier and less awkward. We are not only doctors but we are people as well. We understand tough situations, life changes, and when things are just not working out.  

young lady discussing dental treatment with dentist

Ask the office manager if they have recommendations for other offices in the area and ask how much it will cost for copies of your orthodontic records including your orthodontic pre-treatment photos, pre treatment and progress treatment x-rays, intra-oral scans, orthodontic models and all applicable treatment notes. You may also want to request your financial ledger to confirm what you need to do financially to settle your accounts.   The American Association of Orthodontists recommends a standardized transfer form that orthodontist use for patients in active treatment and you will most likely need this as well to begin the transfer process with the office that you intend to transfer to. 

ProSmiles Tip: A thank you goes a long way! Leave on the best terms possible by saying thank you to your doctor, favorite orthodontic assistant and the Office Manager. Treat others the way you want to be treated, even if you don’t leave on the best terms.

Finding An Office

Finding a select few offices where you would like to transfer your active orthodontic treatment is the next step. Start by researching offices near where you may be relocating or close to your current residence. There are many great resources to look for orthodontists in your local area. Here are a few of the most popular: 

  • Local Chamber Of Commerce

    As small business owners, most private practice orthodontist will be active members of their communities and can be found in your local chamber’s business directory. Some chambers even provide businesses with their own mini-website that can provide quick access to some basic information about the practice to get you started on the right path. 

  • Dental Insurance Carrier

    Your dental Insurance carrier is a great resource for multiple reasons. The first and foremost being that you have a vested financial interest in utilizing your insurance benefits towards your orthodontic treatment. Finding a provider who is in network and accepts your Dental PPO or Dental HMO assures that your remaining benefits will go toward your new treatment. This will decrease the out of pocket expense of transferring your orthodontic services. 

  • Google

    Google’s search engine are a huge resource when looking to transfer orthodontic treatment services to a new provider. By entering a search term such as “orthodontist near me”, results will be returned on the search engine results pages. You will find business advertisements that are curated specifically for you and your search query. Don’t skip over these ads! Some well designed ads will feature clickable promotions, discounts for treatment and contact information. This will make it very easy for you to contact the business that you are searching for. 

    Here’s a screenshot example of one of our best performing ads prosmiles orthodontics sample ad with annotations

    Clicking the ad will take you to our website where you can learn more about our office and even book a free consultation. Many offices will have similar ads for their businesses. 

  • Facebook Groups

    Facebook groups have become an incredible resource for families with regard to orthodontic treatment. There are multiple groups where you can ask for recommendations on what orthodontist to choose to transfer your orthodontic care. These groups are filled with past and current patients that will be willing to offer strong recommendations.

    As Facebook Groups continue to grow and thrive they will be a great way to engage with your local community. Facebook is a great place to find the information that you are looking for in real time.

  • Dental Office

    A local dentist or pediatric dental office is a great place to start to ask for a referral to the orthodontist they prefer. Most offices will offer a few referral options, allowing you to shop around.  If you are moving to a new state, finding a new dental home should be high on your to-do list. Once a relationship with a new dental home has been established, you will want to ask your dentist and their staff for their strongest recommendation to continue your orthodontic care.

The Financial Aspect of Transferring Out

Financially transferring your orthodontic treatment to a new provider may be the most stressful aspects of the transfer process. You will need to settle your accounts with the office that you are leaving prior to transferring your treatment. 

Most offices will only charge patients for the amount of treatment that has been completed up to the time they transfer. We call this “treatment rendered”. This will include the cost of your initial treatment records, x-rays, bonding your braces and all adjustments up to the date of your transfer.

You will need to fulfill your contractual obligation by settling your account. You must do this even if you are transferring because you are unhappy. Orthodontic offices may utilize any and all legal means to collect payments due if you do not settle your account.

The Treatment Part of Transferring

After initiating your transfer of services, settling your accounts and creating a short list of potential new providers, you are ready to book a consultation! When booking your appointment you should immediately make it clear that you are in active treatment and interested in transferring your services and switching orthodontists.

Confirm that the office accepts transfer cases. Ask if you need to bring your current records with you or have them emailed over prior to your consultation. Be prepared to show up to your consultation enthusiastic about getting your treatment on track with your new doctor!

Meeting your new orthodontist face to face, may be both terrifying and exciting. The consultation should be thorough and include a review of your medical and dental history.  Your current orthodontic situation should be discussed at length. Take this opportunity to be open regarding your new start in the orthodontic journey. Be honest about your feelings regarding treatment progress, your previous doctor’s bedside manner, and scheduling conflicts.  Your new doctor and treatment coordinator will lay out a new treatment plan for you. This will include removing your current braces and bonding a new set of braces.

a young lady dental patient meeting dentist for the first time

FAQ Do my braces have to be removed when I transfer my treatment to another provider?

When you transfer offices you should expect to have to remove your current braces. You will need to have new braces bonded or start fresh with new aligners. One of the more common misconceptions in orthodontics is that all braces and treatments are the same. There are many different types of braces. Each bracket type has a specific prescription built in that your doctor likes to use. Because of this there are multiple combinations of bracket system type and prescription that you could have bonded on to your teeth initially. 

do i have to remove my braces when i change orthodontic providers

When you transfer offices you might not have the same combination of braces and prescription that the new doctor uses. Because there are so many possible combinations you should expect to have your braces removed and replaced when you transfer your braces treatment. 

The Financial Aspect Of Transferring In

When transferring active treatment, you will have a new financial plan and contract that covers the remainder of your treatment. Your fees should include the consultation, orthodontic records and continuation of treatment fees. You will also be charged a de-bonding fee to remove your current braces. This takes time in the office so you will be charged for this in most cases. 

Your new treatment fee may be surprisingly more or less than what you originally contracted for at your initial office. You may experience regional differences in fees if you have moved states or local differences if you transferred treatment to a more prominent doctor in your community. This may be one reason to really shop around when selecting a new orthodontic office.

A change in provider may also affect your ability to utilize any remaining insurance benefits that you have remaining. Make sure to verify these 3 key things before signing your new contract:

  • Confirm that the office you want to transfer to accepts your insurance. 
  • Contact your insurance company to find out how much benefit you have remaining
  • Verify that your insurance will pay the benefit for treatment in progress.

Contact your insurance carrier for specific questions. Make sure to get those questions answered prior to your consultation visit. Getting all of this in order will make sure that your insurance benefits transition over smoothly to your new provider.

With all of your new treatment recommendations and finances squared away, review your new contract thoroughly. Sign on the dotted line and you are now ready to restart your treatment journey! 


Transferring your orthodontic services can be a stressful task. So follow this guide closely to decrease your levels of stress and anxiety with the process. 

Start the process of transferring your orthodontic care by using the step by step method I outlined in this article. 

We all take small detours, twists and turns in life and orthodontic treatment is no different. With open communication, careful planning and a great doctor you will be on the road to a successful treatment in no time. 


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