However, Dr. Thomas Arkle III and Dr. Christopher T. Harris, owners of a Charlotte orthodontist practice, caution parents to be wary of aggressive treatment recommendations. Choosing this path could exhaust insurance benefits if their child needs more treatment down the road.
This important topic must have light shed on it because like it or not, there are some orthodontists who treat children too early, said Arkle, who offers braces for adults and children. Years later, teeth can relapse and come out of alignment.
“Although the AAO recommends an orthodontic evaluation by age 7, there typically is no treatment required at that point,” he said.
When it is recommended, parents frequently go along with the advice because they may not realize orthodontic treatment can be started too soon.
“The orthodontist tends to be viewed as the subject matter expert and parents often don’t consider questioning the treatment plan,” said Harris, an Invisalign provider.
In addition to having the malocclusion relapse, payment for a second round of orthodontic treatment can mean spending more money out of pocket.
“Insurance for orthodontic treatment is a convoluted beast,” Harris said.
Some dental insurance does not cover orthodontic treatment. Other types cover as much as half of the treatment cost, and they have a maximum. That limit typically is $1,500.
“But then it’s exhausted for life,” Harris said. “So if your child needs treatment again, there’s no coverage.”
Arkle and Harris, whose practice is Arkle & Harris Orthodontics, have witnessed the consequences of premature treatment in their practice when children have received treatment by another provider, only to have teeth shift out of alignment years later.
“It is quite an unpleasant experience for Mom and Dad to discover that they must pay out of pocket for all of the services the second time around,” Arkle said.
Arkle and Harris recommend the following advice to parents for avoiding this predicament:
1. Get a second opinion.
If a child is 7 or 8 and an orthodontist recommends putting braces on his teeth, get that treatment plan confirmed by another orthodontist. This is particularly important when parents are unsure of the recommendation.
“The relationship between you and your child’s orthodontist is built on trust,” Harris said. “If a parent does not feel confident that I have their child’s best interests at heart, it is best for them to get another opinion.”
2. Learn about the orthodontist.
Research the orthodontist to gain increased knowledge of his or her background, experience and education.
3. Find a board certified provider.
Locate an orthodontic professional who is board certified through the American Board of Orthodontics. A small percentage of orthodontists achieve this status, and certification indicates additional steps have been taken on their part to have their treatments evaluated by peers. This ensures their standards of treatment are of the highest quality.
“We want to make it clear to parents that just because the AAO recommends evaluation by age seven, it doesn’t mean treatment is called for in every case,” Arkle said.
An evaluation is needed to assess bite patterns, jaw growth and bad oral habits that could require treatment later in life. Some measures can be taken early to correct poor habits like thumb-sucking and mouth breathing. Early intervention can eliminate the need for future orthodontic treatment in some cases, and result in the need for less extensive treatment in the future.
“We feel that it is important for parents to arm themselves with information so that when recommendations are given, they can make educated decisions about their child’s treatment and they can get the most out of their insurance coverage,” Harris said.
For more information, please call (704) 597-5555 or visit http://www.arkleandharris.com/
Arkle and Harris Orthodontics offers a variety of orthodontic treatment services to families at two conveniently located offices in Charlotte. Dr. Arkle and Dr. Harris have provided patient-oriented care since 1983, tailoring each patient’s treatment processes to fit their orthodontic needs.