Quality in orthodontics
As it is quite difficult for patients to judge the quality of orthodontic service, in the following we give some tips in order to make clear essentials of quality treatment.
Quality of consultation
First of all it is important that you are offered alternatives in consultation because there in most cases there are various treatment options. Something is wrong if you are only presented with a single option since this restricts the patient’s freedom of choice. Orthodontic treatments are always chosen (elective) treatments – i.e. they are not mandatory – and therefore the option of not having a treatment should be discussed as well. After all, no one has ever died of not receiving an orthodontic treatment. If an orthodontist pushes you to get treatment that is not a good sign. It is even worse, if orthodontists threaten their patients or parents with health risks that might occur if a treatment is not executed: in most cases that is inappropriate and unfair. The duration and quality of a consultation are often good indicators of how orthodontists treat their patients. This allows patients to see whether they are asked for their needs, they are taken seriously and whether a friendly and kind atmosphere prevails. In that respect it is alright to be guided by one’s emotions.
An experienced orthodontist can usually specify the duration of the treatment with an accuracy of three months before start of treatment. But this enforces disciplined working and keeping to the schedule, so many orthodontists prefer to work open-ended and without any time settings. Be careful in such cases. The treatment times in Germany are way too long on average and a lot longer than in most of the neighboring countries with developed orthodontics.
This is due to the deficiencies of German orthodontic education as well as to our system of fees which makes longer treatment times more profitable than shorter ones. So the colleague with the longest treatment times is the best businessman but unfortunately the worst choice for the patients. Modern orthodontic treatments take between 6 and 24 months while the latter value must be exceeded rarely. The average treatment time in our office is about 16 months whereas the average treatment time in Germany might rather be about 40 months, which is more than twice as much. Treatment duration is therefore an important indicator with which patients can discern if an orthodontist does a good job or not.
Burdens and efforts of treatment
Some orthodontists tend to artificially complicate the treatment: they claim that supposedly extensive functional examination before and after treatment were mandatory for treatment, jaw models would need to be mounted with the help of an articulator. Furthermore, highly technical treatment options and aggressive methods utilizing lots of surgery and implants are offered forcefully by some colleagues. All of this can be reasonable in rare cases, but a solid skepticism is advisable. We strongly advise against unnecessary magnetic resonance tomography of the jaw joints which is expensive and time consuming, but does not add any value to treatment planning or prognosis. Pay attention not to bear unnecessary burdens, costs and risks during orthodontic treatment.
Quality of treatment results
After all, the quality of treatment results is essential: of course, your teeth should be straight and symmetrical and the bite should be relaxed and in the right position. As many patients are not aware of, in many cases only the visible front teeth are treated while other deviating findings are ignored. That is acceptable for well informed adults but should not happen when treating children and teenagers. We do not only aspire the highest result quality, but also have we been measuring our quality with the internationally known PAR-index since 2010. We are soon going to publish our, hopefully excellent, data.