How often should you see your orthodontist once treatment has started?

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In this edition of Friday Focus, Dr. O El-Hillal from E&S Orthodontics, your Phoenix Orthodontist, discusses the differences in follow-up appointment schedules.

Hello. My name is Dr. O and today we’re going to talk about the timing for follow-up visits to your orthodontist. The question is: “Why does one orthodontist prefer seeing patients in 4-week intervals while another prefers 6-week intervals?”

Follow-up appointments usually depend on the type of braces the orthodontist employs. With traditional metal braces, for example, appointment intervals run every 4 weeks because the orthodontist must replace worn-out elastic bands on each bracket and adjust the wires to ensure the teeth are being moved in the right direction.

Orthodontists who schedule 6, 8 or 10-week intervals are usually using a treatment system that is not bound by the use of elastic bands. Instead, they are using a system where the wires are held in place using a different mechanism – so the time intervals can actually increase.

Another reason, and I hate to say this, may depend on the payment schedule your orthodontist has arranged with you. Some doctors want to get paid monthly and to make sure they get paid on a monthly basis, they schedule patient follow-up appointments every four weeks.

In other offices, that’s not that case. They could still require monthly payments but won’t see their patients on the same monthly cycle. Instead, they’ll actually increase the intervals to 6-8 weeks between appointments.

Those are the two main factors that explain how orthodontists schedule their follow-up appointments. It really depends on the practice where you’re getting your orthodontic treatment from and the type of braces they are using for your treatment.