Give Parents What They Are Asking for in Orthodontic Care


Create “Raving Fans” To Grow Your Practice

Family schedules today are busier than ever and getting a child to the orthodontist is another daunting task on a parent’s list. Already on the list are trips to the pediatrician, dentist, sports, and after school activities. These responsibilities are now often being juggled by parents that both work. Often parents recall their teenage years and treatment with an orthodontist going “on and on” for many years. Family dentists know parents don’t want to hear, “it’s time to consider orthodontics.” Consequently, it’s common for a family dentist to advise, “pick an orthodontist close to school or your home because you’ll be visiting the orthodontist a lot.” The dentist has been conditioned by the complaints of parents going through a lengthy process with appointments every month for years.

Now the family dentist or pediatric dentist can offer a better solution. It must begin by encouraging parents to think about their child’s dental and emotional needs carefully and help them weigh the risks and benefits of starting treatment as well as the risks and benefits of delaying any action. The first dentist providing a child’s dental care becomes a familiar and trusted “member of the family.” Offering to sort out the advantages and disadvantages to different treatment options and then delivering the actual care without having to go to a new office will always be valued highest.

Three goals which can be discussed and help organize the conversation about orthodontic care are: 1) creating a healthy bite, 2) cosmetic improvement, and 3) airway. The consent-to-treat conversation must begin with education, goal setting, and a treatment limitations review. As dentists we should consider what parents want and need regarding orthodontic care for themselves and their children. Parents always hope it can be as “pain-free” as possible for their child. It is often their child’s first experience beyond a simple dental cleaning or routine health check. Parents desire the fewest office visits. They prefer no additional hygiene challenges requiring dietary limitations and increased daily dental home care. They know oral hygiene problems will result in decay, permanent stains, or gum deterioration.

The dentist who delivers orthodontic care with maximum comfort, convenience, and safety will truly be a hero for families. They will develop “raving fans” as a result. Happy parents are the best marketing!

The exciting news is that technology now exists allowing all dentists to deliver reliable specialty orthodontic services in a manner desired by adults and the parents of children. The key to success in this effort is utilizing aligners which virtually eliminate emergencies and facilitate remote monitoring. The orthodontic aligner appliance design has been used and also in constant development and improvement for nearly 30 years. That design is the replacement of hard braces permanently attached to a patient’s teeth with the use of weekly disposable clear plastic aligners to move teeth. Another key element which has changed the delivery of orthodontic care is the “virtual world.” Digital records can be captured with scanning devices in the office in a few minutes and then shared quickly with partner specialists so collaboration in diagnosis and treatment planning is easier than ever.

The Specialty Appliances Lab has specialists on staff prepared to assist in the diagnosis and treatment planning of your cases. They also have state-of-the-art 3D printing and aligner fabrication services available for seamless delivery of aligners.

It is time for a reimagining of how best to treat patients. A new standard of care will evolve through parents’ expectations and eventually their demand for collaboration of multiple doctors in the planning of care. The experience and judgment of experts, previously unavailable due to their geographic location, are now available. Virtual access to digital records has changed everything from the initial evaluation, to planning, and also treatment monitoring. Improved outcomes will result along with the additional convenience of staying at one office where the patient has become comfortable.

Let’s review the criteria valued by parents for their child’s orthodontic care as well as adults seeking care. 1) CONVENIENT LOCATION of the office where orthodontic care will be delivered 2) COMFORT 3) FEWER OFFICE VISITS 4) GOOD ORAL HYGIENE easier to avoid cavities, stains, and gum issues (common with braces)


The most convenient location for the delivery of care would be to deliver care at home! To reflect on the past, it would be like a return to the old days of the doctor doing a house call. This model for the delivery of orthodontic care has become available with only small limitations. Very few visits are needed with good planning and remote monitoring by home scanning.

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Comfort is usually the most important factor in determining compliance with any treatment process. If it hurts, the patients will find an excuse to not comply, angering the parents who spend lots of money for a child in orthodontic care. Plastic aligners eliminate the traditional “pain-points” of braces, such as pokey braces and sharp wires. Plastic aligners pass this comfort-test with flying colors. The thin close-fitting aligner covers only what is necessary, creating the least possible irritation to the lips, cheeks, and tongue. Additionally, light stimulation of the gum tissue, used for years in dermatology, may be used to help eliminate discomfort.

Office Visits

Fewer visits are desired by busy families trying to fit treatment into their already-packed schedules. Plastic aligners require far fewer visits. By utilizing effective planning, an office can deliver an adequate number of aligners to have at home. The need for repeated visits to an office to monitor hygiene and movement has been dramatically reduced.

Additionally, the absence of wires not only adds to the comfort of the patients (as previously discussed), but also cuts back on office visits. No is no need for a specific visit for removing wires and no removing wires to get a cleaning only to have to return to get the wires re-attached. There would also be fewer emergency visits for pain due to no pokey wires, broken braces, or lost appliance urgency. Patients and parents are coached that if there’s a lost or broken aligner just use the previous or next aligner at home.

Technology and smartphones now allow for imaging of teeth to be done from home. This allows for the most scheduling flexibility for patients and families because movement of teeth can be checked virtually by the doctor. Another high-tech solution that cuts back on office visits is Photobiomodulation. This is a new technology consisting of a low-level light therapy that results in fewer visits and a shorter treatment time. This therapy is 10 minutes per day.


Hygiene and oral health are at the forefront of all of our minds when considering the best treatment options. Broken braces, bent wires, and sharp wires are the reality of braces. This is especially true with the use of partial braces due to mixed dentition and patients who find holiday candy and movie popcorn irresistible. Many parents immediately discover the dramatic increase in hygiene problems with braces and would desire a more hygienic treatment option. Removable appliances solve this issue. Patients can take them out to brush, floss, and get cleanings.

Offering parents an alternative to traditional braces that offers increased comfort, reduced hygiene risks, and dramatically fewer office visits will put a smile on the faces of both the parents and the beautiful children that you care for. Adult patients will also smile with the ease of their care and gorgeous results.