Should I Consider Getting a Virtual Orthodontic Exam?
The COVID-19 lockdown of 2020 has forced the general population to adapt to a new normal. This new normal includes the option to utilize virtual doctor’s appointments to get the help we need. But what about your orthodontal health? How can a person fix their teeth if they can’t visit an actual office?
As odd as it may sound, virtual orthodontic exams and consultations are more common than you’d think. Especially with the increasing popularity of at-home aligners, fixing your smile without leaving the comfort of your home has never been easier.
In this article, we’ll cover the benefits of getting a virtual orthodontic exam or consultation, how treatment works, and what would make you a good candidate for virtual treatment.
Benefits of Getting a Virtual Orthodontic Exam
Although virtual doctor visits aren’t a new concept, their use has increased exponentially over the last year or so. Virtual exams, in general, take far less time during the appointment and you don’t even have to leave your sit spot. Whether you’re at home or at work, virtual appointments give you the flexibility to get treatment on your own time.
Beyond that, there are a number of other benefits that come along with doing virtual orthodontic exams and consultations. Let’s go into a little more detail about the specific benefits of virtual exams:
- Your time is valuable. A virtual appointment means no unnecessary wait times and you have the flexibility to take your appointment call virtually anywhere. Multitasking while grocery shopping, binge-watching a show, or using your lunch break at work are all viable here.
- No germ-spreading. Not having to worry about germy waiting rooms is nice because you’re less exposed to harmful viruses like COVID-19.
- It’s more calm for the anxiety-ridden. If you suffer from social anxiety or any type of anxiety surrounding dental work/doctor visits, virtual appointments are much more relaxing. Because you’re in an environment you’re comfortable in, rather than a doctor’s office that has you on edge, you’ll be more likely to cooperate with the orthodontist or other specialist on the other side.
- Virtual consultations and exams are less expensive. Because they take less time and resources, your orthodontal appointment bill will be lower than an in-person visit.
- You can see more than one specialist at a time. If there’s a specific issue you need to work with multiple specialists on, you can cut down your financial and time costs by seeing more than one specialist at the same time. This also allows both of your doctors to be on the same page.
How Does Treatment Work During a Virtual Orthodontic Exam?
If you choose to do virtual orthodontic treatment, the process will be very similar to an in-person process:
- Schedule your appointment: Depending on your orthodontist’s office, you may be able to schedule a virtual orthodontic exam or consultation online. If that’s the case, there will likely be a spot where you can indicate that you prefer virtual treatment. If you choose to make an appointment over the phone, you’ll just need to tell them you prefer their virtual process.
- Meet your orthodontist: If you’re a new patient, your first virtual appointment will likely be longer than subsequent ones. You’ll get to know your orthodontist and the two of you will discuss your concerns while they look at your alignment from a variety of angles. You’ll be able to discuss the treatment options (metal braces, clear braces, Invisalign, etc.) that they offer in their office.
- Visit the office: Although you may choose to do the majority of your treatment through the virtual track, there may be times when you need to come to their office. These instances are usually because you need x-rays or you need to get your braces fitted.
At Home Aligners vs. Braces
Depending on the type of treatment you choose, you may never have to formally visit the orthodontist’s office. If you choose to go with Invisalign, all materials can be sent right to your home. However, if you choose to go with metal or clear braces, you’ll need to periodically visit the office when it’s time for adjustments or a part needs to be fixed.
Can I go Entirely Virtual?
If you’re looking to go completely virtual, Invisalign is your best option as it’s the only type that doesn’t require in-office adjustments. However, it’s important to keep in mind that although Invisalign is more convenient, there may be times when you’ll still have to come in for an exam.
Certain instances where you’re experiencing pain or if you have an overly problematic bite will require an in-office visit. These visits will help your orthodontist get a better idea of what is going on. They may also tell you that you’ll need braces temporarily until your teeth can get in the right alignment for Invisalign to be most effective.
Are you a Good Virtual Treatment Candidate?
Although virtual orthodontic treatment is becoming more common, the process may not be available to everyone. For starters, to even consider a virtual treatment process, you need to have access to a stable internet connection. This way, you won’t accidentally cut out during any appointments.
You should also be familiar with the video platform the office uses for their virtual orthodontic consultations. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, most offices are only doing virtual appointments for initial consultations. After that, your treatment choice will dictate whether or not virtual appointments are practical.
Invisalign is the most “virtual compatible” because all materials can be sent to you or picked up at the office when you can. On the other hand, because of how braces work, it’s easier to make in-person appointments then.
Even if you prefer Invisalign, you may not be compatible with Invisalign treatment. Depending on the alignment of your teeth and your bite, you may need to commit to braces. If this is the case with you, there’s no need to worry. Once your teeth reach a certain alignment, you can switch over to Invisalign and then you’ll be able to go completely virtual.