Why does the fee vary with different orthodontists?

Some orthodontic patients are surprised to find out that the cost of braces commonly varies from clinic to clinic. Assuming that the treatment plan and final results would be similar (which may or may not actually be the case).

What causes fees to be higher in one office than another? What factors affect orthodontic fees and how are they calculated?

As with any product or service, the cost of getting braces is determined by multiple factors. Among these are

  1. The cost of the materials, supplies, facilities and convenience
  2. Options of treatment.
  3. The cost of staff salaries
  4. The cost and maintenance of the facility, and
  5. Profit to the business.

Here’s why orthodontic fees are higher in some clinics and lower in others.

Materials and Supplies:

There are lots of supplies necessary to provide your orthodontic treatment. The most visible ones are the brackets, wires, and rubber bands that our orthodontist and his team attach to your teeth. The bracket types depend on the type of treatment advised. There are several bracket types and broadly they are categorized into Conventional fixed appliance (which works on friction mechanics) and the Self-ligation fixed appliance (which works by frictionless mechanics) like the Damon appliance. The Damon appliance costs about twenty times more than the conventional fixed appliance brackets. However, the bracket or mechanics used depends on the outcome, the orthodontist wants to achieve for the patient and the requirements of “what the patient is expecting”.  The different bracket type is best decided, once a thorough examination and diagnosis is made. Sometimes, the outcomes can be similar with both the techniques and it is not necessary to choose the expensive Damon appliance. However, where recommended the Damon appliance achieve better outcome for patients, when a “ Face driven orthodontic concept” is taken into consideration. Further, if the patient chooses to have tooth coloured brackets, they are always more expensive than the metal braces. In addition, the bracket type also influence the cost of the wires and the Damon system wires are always quite expensive than the conventional fixed appliance.The bracket type, technique, duration, outcome makes all the difference in the cost. (Please refer to my blog on Damon appliance, to find out the difference in outcome with this appliance)

Options of treatment:

The cost can easily vary if the options of treatment differ considerably. In some scenarios the practitioner may not have discussed all the available options and might consider a compromised option rather than a comprehensive option.  This might cut the cost considerably but the goals and objectives are not achieved.

However, if you wish for us to match or comment on the quote you may have received elsewhere, we are happy to discuss the variations in treatment and the outcomes, to help in making an informed choice.

Facilities:

The things you might not see are all of the supplies and tools used for sterilization, appliance placement and removal, and the lab where models and retainers are made. Additionally, not all orthodontists use the same quality of braces nor do they straighten teeth in the same way. While most orthodontists have some type of x-ray machine in their office, some do not. Diagnostic equipment costs money. Innovative orthodontic offices may use 3D x-rays (CBCT) that provide doctors with a lot more information about your teeth and jaws than conventional machines. Offices that use better materials, more innovative appliances (including clear aligners), and better technology must pass the costs of these improvements on to their patients.

Convenience:

One of the most visible differences between orthodontic clinics is the facility in which the practice is located and the amenities and conveniences provided. Although you may be able to get straight teeth in a stark, institutional facility, many families prefer an office that is more comfortable, innovative, convenient, wider appointment choice like late evenings and weekends, longer appointment times, single orthodontist led, same day emergency appointment service, six day opening timings, weekend/after hours emergency services and timeliness. Those additional perks also come at a price and will have fees slightly higher than offices that don’t.

Staffing:

By far the biggest expense for all orthodontic practices is staff salaries, and those can be very different between offices. An office that has a larger, more experienced team will have a larger payroll. Their experience, qualification and expertise is worth the higher salaries that they receive. Newer offices or offices that experience a lot of turnover may have less experienced employees and that should be reflected in a lower fee.

Calculating fees is just math. Usually once a year, the amount of money it costs to treat patients (supplies, staff, and overhead) is determined and divided by number of patients seen (with adjustments for the kinds and complexity of treatment and appliances used). Sometimes patients who shop around for an orthodontist will find the treatment, staff, and facility they want in one office but a lower fee in another. Hopefully this information helps explain why orthodontic fees are not the same everywhere.

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