Is going to the orthodontist risky?

When contemplating a healthcare treatment, what are the factors that you weigh up before you decide to go ahead? Is risk one of them? We ask because we have invested in new digital resources. We believe that the apps on our website will help anyone wanting treatment at Ewell Orthodontics to trust there is minimal risk associated with becoming a patient here.

We are committed to spending time answering all your questions and explaining all aspects of teeth-straightening and the apps help give access to us. Every healthcare provider should communicate the risks of treatment to their patients.  Whether the healthcare provider is a podiatrist, an orthopaedic surgeon, an ophthalmologist or, like us, orthodontists, they have a duty to explain to patients what could go wrong and how likely, (or unlikely), it might be. This is known as the consent process and it’s more important today than it has ever been.

Some treatments carry high risks while others represent a minimal risk. What’s important is that patients know what the risks are. Once you have weighed up the benefits that you might get from the treatment vis-a-vis any possible down sides you can make what is known as ‘informed consent’ to treatment.

Orthodontic cases and treatment plans

In the big picture, orthodontics is a low-risk treatment. Orthodontists are dental specialists who have spent 5 years as dentists and then more than three years as orthodontists, sometimes as many as 10 years building up their knowledge and skill. Orthodontic treatment is limited to your mouth and facial area so there is a very low risk of any kind of life-threatening incident. This is in contrast, for instance, to heart bypass surgery which will be carried out on someone who is poorly.

It can be your own health that adds to your risk status. When you require  a major medical surgery, you might already be unwell. You might need a risky procedure made still more risky because they are unwell. Alternatively, if you have an allergic reaction to a drug, antibiotic or material, this can affect the success of an operation.

Should people with bad oral health receive braces?

By and large, people who want orthodontic treatment are fit and well. What’s most important is that they have a healthy mouth. We will not treat any patient who has poor oral hygiene. We have a hygienist here who is highly experienced in helping our orthodontic patients keep their teeth clean, she will treat any patient who does not have a hygienist in their own practice and we also recommend patients see her even if they have a hygienist at their own dentist. By the way, your teeth are likely to be healthier at the end of treatment because once they are straight, they are easier to clean.

It’s important to stress that it’s not always the treatment itself that is risky, it could be the treatment provider who poses a risk because they don’t have enough relevant skill and experience. It’s always important to check the experience of your treatment provider. You will find that plenty of orthodontists provide a second opinion for patients who want to check a treatment plan. This is something we do here and we will always be candid so that you get the reassurance that you need.

Aligners by post

It’s worth pointing out the elephant in the orthodontic room. This is the subject of direct-to-consumer braces. Online companies are now offering aligners by post and these are definitely not for the risk averse! The treatment will be signed off by a dentist but most of it is unsupervised. We have already taken on a patient who bought aligners online and was disappointed with the result. She asked for our help and has since signed up for treatment with us. With online companies where you do not choose your clinician, there is a risk of unsatisfactory treatment AND of wasted money. It is much better to trust a local practice with your care than an online business.

Risks are reduced by choosing a registered healthcare provider for your treatment. By law, we must all have insurance so that if anything did go wrong, a rare event, you could be compensated. This is so important and should help you trust us with your care.

Benefits of orthodontic treatment in adults

All this talk of risk is inspired by the new technology we have invested in. The process of finding out about treatment via apps on our website helps underscore informed consent because there are so many opportunities to ask questions about what we offer. This is the process:

  • The Smilemate app which is on our website allows you to see what your new smile might look like after treatment
  • You fill in a form via the app and make contact with the practice
  • You can ask lots of questions from one of our treatment co-ordinators, either Carly or Agata
  • Before we draw up a treatment plan, there is plenty of time to ask questions from the specialists, either Faiza Lewis or Richard Williams, who will let you know of any risks of treatment and go through informed consent
  • You will always have your treatment overseen by a specialist
  • If you choose to have aligners here, you will be provided with a Dental Monitoring Scanbox. This allows you to send images of your teeth to us regularly so we can monitor progress and answer any queries.

As you can see, you will have plenty of contact with the practice. We are here for our patients while they are on their treatment journey.