It’s a matter of perspective and complexity. Patients are asking for “The Day,” and the orthodontist is evaluating the patient’s progress in treatment toward the “desired goal.”
At the beginning of treatment, an estimate of time is usually established to provide a reference of time. It is truly only an estimate, assuming that all goes well with the treatment plan, the patient’s biological response and patient’s full participation and cooperation in their treatment. The orthodontist is thinking about meeting all the parameters of a good orthodontics treatment result.
When a patient asks me, “Dr. Michael Sabat, do you know when I’m going to get my braces off?” I often say “Yes I do.” I’m then asked, “Well, when?” And my response is, “I don’t know exactly when it will be, but I’ll recognize it when we are there.” In other words, it’s a “clinical decision.”
Every patient is unique, and their treatment issues are also unique to them. Each orthodontist is also unique, and he or she may or may not see or recognize all the areas of need for a particular patient. The best orthodontics available today is “Comprehensive Treatment,” which is provided by an Orthodontic Specialist. All treatment goals should take teeth, face, smile, function, growth, and development into consideration with a conservative treatment plan and with a long-term perspective into adulthood.
The skill, knowledge, experience, and integrity of the orthodontic specialist must work together with a motivated and compliant patient. A supportive home environment is also needed for orthodontic treatment to work efficiently and to stay on schedule with the beginning estimated treatment time.
When am I getting my braces off? It is a team effort: patient, parent, and the orthodontist. Is everyone doing their part to finish on time?