Thursday, June 21, 2012

Counting the Cost

In this economy, we understand that most families are living with less. Some struggle just to make ends meet. It isn't easy for any of us. Now, more than ever, people are really thinking about how we invest our hard earned dollars.

Because of that, patients are asking questions and taking the time to truly understand the costs and value of orthodontic service. One of the questions we hear most frequently sounds something like this:

I have to admit that I just don’t understand why orthodontic care costs so much. Don’t you just put on braces and wait for the teeth to move into the right place?

I'd like to try and answer that question:

As with many valuable professional services— for instance, lawyers, surgeons, pharmacists, and physicians— it’s often hard for the layman to “see” the processes going on behind the scenes. The first and perhaps most critical stage of orthodontic treatment is the treatment plan. Before treatment begins, Dr. Sutherland and Dr. Larson do an in depth examination of a patients photos and x-rays in order study the positions of both the visible and not-yet-visible teeth.They take into consideration the structure of the patient’s face and jaw, the potential for growth and probable growth patterns. With the desired outcome in mind, all of this is balanced against the age and health of the patient, the possible need for surgical and or dental intervention, (skeletal surgery or extractions). Taken together, these many factors guide the design of a customized treatment plan.

No question about it, designing the best treatment plan is both art and science. Even with all the facts, much of that plan depends on the many years of experience and training that both Dr. Greg and Dr. Ethan bring to the process.

Once a patient begins treatment, each step, or phase is executed under the doctor’s close supervision. Using regularly spaced appointments, (about every ten weeks) the doctors evaluate the individual body’s response to the treatment and adjust their plan accordingly. The orthodontist asks himself, are the teeth moving? Are they moving fast enough, or too fast? Is the process comfortable enough for this patient? How can we adapt to unexpected changes as they occur? Often, during these appointments our staff modifies the appliances or wires attached to the braces. By using different appliances, or changing the size of the wires, the position, size and placement of rubber bands, the forces moving the teeth are changed, and a different effect is produced.

Part of the orthodontic treatment cost covers these critically important office visits and adjustments. Outside the dental office, these small adjustments are almost unnoticeable. (The patient certainly knows about them!) However, in the dynamic, living biology of tooth movement--where gum health, bone response, jaw and facial growth are vital factors--each of these appointments becomes a critical part of the development patient’s new and perfect smile!

It's no question that those beautiful smiles are an investment -- of time, commitment, talent, and finances --for everyone involved. At SmilesbySutherland, we can work with you to finance orthodontic treatment. It isn’t easy. But we think the stunning results and glorious smiles are entirely worth it.

You can check out the before and after pictures on our Facebook page at:

or our website:

Dr. Ethan Larson, Dr. Greg Sutherland,
with Bette Nordberg 

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for explaining this. From a patient's point of view it's easy to assume that there is nothing more to it then putting braces on an adjusting them from time to time. Sounds like it's not as "easy" as most of us think!