The demand for orthodontics is on the rise.
Orthodontic work is now the No. 1 reason why general and pediatric dentists must refer patients to other providers. In addition to people needing orthodontic treatment for malocclusion, many adults simply want straighter teeth and a more attractive smile. Parents are also more informed about the benefits of early orthodontics for their children. In fact, the AAO urges parents to at least have their children evaluated for orthodontic treatment by age 7.
Benefits of Dentists Offering Orthodontics
“In orthodontics, as in all areas of dentistry, it makes sense that the less complex cases would be selected for treatment in general or family practice, while the more complex cases would be referred to a specialist.”
— William R. Proffit, D.D.S, M.S.
General and pediatric dentists are certainly qualified to offer comprehensive dental services, including fillings, crowns, bridges, and cosmetic procedures. What general dentists might not know, however, is that online orthodontic courses offer a wealth of information regarding current orthodontics and are the preferred approach to incorporating orthodontic treatment into their dental practices.
With Dr. Proffit’s quote in mind, let’s look at the advantages of integrating orthodontics into a general or pediatric dental practice.
Improves Patient Care
When a dentist refers a patient to an orthodontic practice, they often “lose” that patient for an extended time. Sometimes, they may never even see that patient again, especially if the referral is miles away or in another county. Referring a patient out for orthodontic work can also limit the dentist’s ability to closely monitor that patient’s oral health and provide proactive dental treatment. This is especially important for adolescents who have been seeing the same dentist since they were toddlers. That dentist has all the information needed to make proactive decisions about dental treatment and knows exactly what kind of issues each patient may be vulnerable to developing as they grow into adulthood.
Gives Patients More Treatment Options
General and pediatric dentists who incorporate orthodontics into their practices can not only straighten teeth but also provide orthodontic appliances for treating TMJ and some types of sleep apnea. In addition to causing jaw joint pain, facial pain, and headaches, TMJ is often responsible for dental caries and enamel abrasion that could contribute to gum disease, or periodontitis. An increasing number of treatment options thanks to orthodontics and associated dental techniques also enhances the professional reputation and perceived competency of a dental practice as existing patients spread the word, enjoying the ability to visit just one dentist for all oral health needs.
Contributes to Annual Increases in Revenue and Competitive Edge
It’s safe to say that general and pediatric dentists offering orthodontic treatment will naturally see their earnings rise steadily over time. While cleanings, fillings, and minor dental procedures can usually be completed in one or two visits, orthodontic patients require long-term treatment and, in some cases, monthly visits. Moreover, providing extended orthodontic services strengthens a dentist’s capacity to chart, learn from, and accomplish successful treatment plans that build excellent patient satisfaction outcomes.
Disadvantages of Offering Orthodontics in a General or Pediatric Dental Practice
Hiring More Office Help or Moving to a Larger Office
Expanding your dental practice through orthodontics will naturally attract and retain more patients. Although this isn’t exactly a con, dentists should think about the possibility of including weekend office hours in their schedule, investing in dental computer software to streamline workflow, and opening satellite offices in the future. Alternatively, dentists who have only been practicing for a year or two probably won’t view taking on a bigger workload as a disadvantage.
Having more patients naturally means the paperwork load will increase regarding insurance forms, orthodontic contracts and waivers, patient assessments, etc. Most general and pediatric dentists leave office paperwork up to their staff members, but some forms associated with orthodontic treatments can only be completed by the dentist. Advanced dental software is available that automates some paperwork involving orthodontics, patient medical histories, and insurance forms.
Expenses Related to Orthodontic Supplies
Dental practices on tight budgets may experience a slight bump financially as they prepare to offer orthodontic treatment to patients. Start-up costs vary and partially depend on the quantity and brand of orthodontic items the dentist buys. However, if you go on to add three to five orthodontic cases each month in your practice after completing the American Orthodontic Society’s orthodontic courses, you will recoup your initial investment as your patient roster increases and word gets out that your practice is now providing orthodontic work.
Are you ready to learn more about taking online orthodontic courses?
While weighing the pros and cons of incorporating orthodontics into your practice, you can also find out more about the American Orthodontic Society’s continuing education classes for general and pediatric dentists. If you have always wanted to expand your practice and can make time in your busy schedule to take online orthodontic courses, this may be just what you’ve been looking for to achieve the goal of broadening your knowledge base and practice.
Visit the AOS website today to discover what we can do for your dental practice.
To learn more about our popular orthodontics courses for pediatric and general dentists, check out one of the upcoming events below.