sometimes: we begin orthodontic treatment, and life takes us
to a new destination. Changing orthodontists mid-treatment can
be tricky. You have all this stuff in your mouth, and somebody
has to take care of it!
Here are a few
suggestions to make things easier for everyone.
1. If you are
planning to move, or even if it is a mere possibility, tell
your orthodontist ASAP.
orthodontists work on a "pay as you go" plan. In
other words, you pay a certain amount of money at the outset
of treatment (for the molds, consultations, and having the
braces installed). Then, each month, you pay a percentage of
the rest of your balance. So, if you move away from your
orthodontist, be sure to tell him/her ASAP so that you will
not be charged extra. You orthodontist will probably
"pro-rate" your balance or refund some of your
money. Be sure to ask what your doc's policy is in this
Get your records.
your dental records and x-rays, or ask your orthodontist to
forward them to your new orthodontist once you arrive at your
Try to identify a new orthodontist before you move, if
current orthodontist may know of a colleague in your new area.
If you have friends or relatives in your new area, that's a
good resource, too. Other ways to identify a new orthodontist
local chamber of commerce
local chapter of the orthodontic or dental association
pediatric dentists where they refer their patients
a local online forum or message board
4. Get them
talking to each other.
vary in their treatment approaches. Ask your
"former" ortho to call your "new" ortho
and talk about your treatment plan. This way, you know that
your "new" ortho is continuing your original
treatment plan -- or not.
Don't be surprised if you need to spend more money.
may wind up paying a few hundred dollars more to your new
orthodontist. After all, this new doc has never seen you
before, and you are a new patient to him. Hopefully, changing
orthodontists mid-treatment won't raise your treatment costs
all the facts about your new orthodontist and treatment before
committing. Some of the questions you need to ask include:
my treatment cost more? If so, how much?
do you bill your patients?
you going to continue my previous orthodontist's treatment
plan, or do you have other ideas for my treatment?
my treatment take the same amount of time (will my braces
come off when I had expected them to originally)?
are your office hours? What is your procedure if I have a
have "XYZ"-type braces. Can you continue my
treatment with them?
7. A note on
a great scenario: you take a new job and move. Your new job
offers orthodontic benefits! But wait -- did you know that
most orthodontic benefits are for new treatment, not
for existing treatment? So, no matter how wonderful
those orthodontic benefits are, chances are you won't be able
to use them. Be sure to look into this!
if you're on a dental plan that offers a list, call and ask if
they have any orthodontists in your new area. Maybe they do!
A note on payment plans
not a good idea to pay for your entire treatment up-front.
Most orthodontists have a "make a deposit, then
pay-as-you-go" plan. Why don't you want to pay up-front?
Several reasons: what if you move again? What if you decide to
change orthodontists again?
if your orthodontist is unscrupulous? Yes, there are true
stories about dentists who took full payment from their
patients -- and then closed their practices! Some of their
patients had to pay the full amount (in excess of $5,000) again
to the new orthodontist, and some just couldn't afford the
unexpected expense and had to stop their treatment. Don't let
this happen to you!