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Orthodontic Policies


Appointment Policies

Orthodontic Appointments

During your consultation an estimated time of treatment will be presented, the estimated time is presented with the expectation that the patient be seen approximately every six (6) weeks. It is very important to schedule these appointments before you leave the office, and it is important that you keep these scheduled appointments.

Frequent failed or rescheduled appointments may prolong treatment past the estimated treatment time. Appointments will be schedule so that optimum treatment can be completed at each appointment – please understand to complete your treatment it is impossible to only schedule after school or on school holidays.

Initial Placement of Braces

In Orthodontic offices the initial appointment for braces is considered a “long” appointment. During this appointment the braces (brackets) are bonded to the teeth. This is a very critical appointment because the bracket controls the movement of the teeth. Precision in bracket placement is imperative! For this reason these appointment are usually scheduled in the late morning (10:30 – 12:00) and early afternoon (1:30 – 2-30). By reserving appointments for this procedure at these times we will not have several other patients in the office, ensuring our attention will not be interrupted. This appointment usually takes 1 -1 ½ hours. During this appointment, brackets will be placed on the teeth and the initial arch wire will be placed. Instruction in oral health care will be reviewed and we will answer any new questions you may have.

Appointments

We make every effort to be on time for each patient and ask that you extend the same courtesy to us. If you cannot keep an appointment, please notify us immediately. Cancel only if it is an emergency. It is difficult to reschedule your appointment for the same day and even the same week since most appointments are made four to eight (4-8) weeks in advance.

We have found that the schools prefer that students do not miss the same class repeatedly and we cannot accommodate every patient after school. For this reason, we encourage you to know your students’ class schedule so they do not repeatedly miss the same class. Normally a student on a six (6) week appointment interval will have six (6) appointments during a school year.

Adjustment Appointments

After the initial placement of braces we will schedule adjustment appointments. Adjustment appointments take twenty to forty (20-40) minutes. Dr. West will advise you of the recommended interval until your next appointment and the amount of time needed for that appointment at the completion of the current appointment.

When adjustments are made to the braces, the mild changes in forces can cause pressure on the brackets which move the teeth and jaws into the desired position. Usually the patient does not notice the result of new forces immediately. They may, however, report a slight soreness a day later. Patients recover from this discomfort quickly. If you experience this discomfort Dr. West encourages you to maintain your proper diet. Just as you would massage a cramp out of your arm or leg muscle, chewing will massage the teeth and their supporting structures.

Repair Appointments

We do not plan for repair appointments, but occasionally they are needed. Patients who follow instructions and adhere to the “Proper Diet” recommendations rarely have broken appliances. Please remember if a bracket, band, or wire is broken it is no longer a simple adjustment appointment. Repairing broken appliances takes time! If a bracket is loose please notify the office immediately so arrangements can be made to repair your braces. If you fail to inform us or inform us upon arrival that a bracket is off it may be necessary to re-schedule your appointment due to needing additional time to complete the repair.

Broken Brackets

With proper oral hygiene and tooth brushing you should notice if a bracket, band, or wire is broken. If a bracket does come off it is important to place the bracket in a safe place (plastic zip lock bag) and bring it to the office for repair. Your bracket can be reattached; if you throw it away we will need to charge for a replacement bracket. When brackets are loose for several days, the individual tooth or teeth will not be moving with the others and treatment time may be extended past the projected completion time given at the consultation.

Visiting the Dentist during Orthodontic Treatment

It is very important that you continue your routine dental visits once every six months, even during orthodontic treatment, for teeth cleaning and routine dental checkups. With braces, food may be caught in places that your tooth brush cannot reach. This causes bacteria to build up that can lead to cavities, gingivitis, and gum disease. Sometimes it is recommended that these visits are more frequent than every six months. If you routinely receive oral health evaluations in Dr. West office these appointment s will be coordinated with your orthodontic visits for your convenience.

My Child Attends School!

Almost all of our patients attend school outside the home and their parents work; therefore you should know that the Texas Education Code Section 25.087(b) specifically addresses the issue of temporary absences resulting from appointments with health care professionals. Temporary absences for dental visits are EXCUSED ABSENCES. When the student returns to school, the student must be given a reasonable time to make up schoolwork missed and if successful and satisfactorily completed the student may not be deprived of a benefit based on “perfect attendance”; the temporary absence shall be counted as a day of compulsory attendance. Additionally, in August of 1999, the Texas Attorney General, John Cornyn, stated this Section of the Texas Education Code established that “perfect attendance” benefits could not be denied any student, if in fact the absence complied with this section of the Texas Education Code.

School Excused Absence Note

At the conclusion of your appointment Dr. West will complete a School Excused Absence note that should be delivered to school attendance office upon return to school. This note will verify that you have been at a health care appointment and the Texas Education Code Section 25.087 (b) outlines how this absence should be recorded. If for some reason the school does not adhere to these rules the issue should be discussed with the Superintendant of the respective school district.


Financial Policies

Cost of Orthodontics

Your smile is yours forever, and we want to make it as easy as possible for you to receive the best orthodontic care whenever you need it. Since orthodontic treatment varies according to individual patient needs and individual treatment plans the cost can only be determined after a thorough diagnostic work-up. During the treatment consultation Dr. West will advise you of the cost and available payment options. We will work with you to create a payment plan that fits your budget, and you will know what to expect before beginning treatment.

Fees

In an effort to keep orthodontic fees down while maintaining the highest level of professional care, we have the following financial policy:

  • Our office has in-house financing options to help make your treatment affordable. It is our goal to work with you to create an affordable payment plan that fits your budget
  • As a courtesy, we are able to offer a discount is the fees are paid in full on the day braces are placed. The total fee may be paid in cash or by check. Sorry, this option is not available for credit card payments
  • The initial payment may be paid with cash, check, Visa, or MasterCard. Monthly payments will be billed to your Visa or MasterCard
  • In cases of serious delinquency, treatment will be discontinued, although we will make every effort to accommodate patients with temporary difficulties

Our Office Policy Regarding Orthodontic Insurance

Our office makes every effort to help you maximize your insurance benefits. After the initial placement of braces we will file your claim. Our office will accept assignment of benefits if you accurately complete all the insurance information needed to accurately complete the insurance form.

We require specific information during your registration as a patient and any inaccuracies or omissions will impact the proper filing of insurance claims. Once again, we file claims as a courtesy to you.

Fact 1 - PROFESSIONAL CARE IS PROVIDED TO YOU, OUR PATIENT, AND NOT TO AN INSURANCE COMPANY

The insurance company is responsible to the policy holder, and the policy holder are financially obligated to the doctor. We will help in every way we can in filing your claim and handling insurance questions from our office on your behalf.

Fact 2 – ORTHODONTIC BENEFITS ARE PAYABLE AT 50% UP TO A LIFETIME MAXIMUM

Orthodontic insurance is a separate entity from dental insurance. Some dental plans do not include orthodontic coverage. If orthodontic benefits are available coverage states that it covers 50% of the cost up to a lifetime maximum. This orthodontic lifetime maximum is distinct from your dental coverage yearly maximum. Orthodontic lifetime maximums range from $1000.00 to $2000.00 and this has been the range since the 1990’s. Any fees which the insurance company does not pay become your responsibility.

Fact 3 - BENEFITS ARE NOT PAID IN ONE LUMP SUM PAYMENT

Orthodontic benefits are usually paid on a quarterly schedule. If during the course of treatment your benefits change, the financially responsible party is accountable for any remaining fees.

Fact 4 - DEDUCTIBLES & CO-PAYMENTS MUST BE CONSIDERED

Some Orthodontic Plans do have a one-time deductible.

MOST IMPORTANTLY, please keep us informed of any insurance changes such as policy name, insurance company address, or a change of employment.