Orthodontic treatment is a partnership not only between patients and the ortho practice, but also between the ortho practice and the general practice. Both practices have a vested interest that mutual patients maintain optimal oral health during orthodontic treatment. Dental practices want to see their hygiene patients on a regular schedule. For ortho practices, good hygiene care ensures better compliance and prevents other oral health issues from delaying completion of orthodontic treatment.

When dentists and their teams know that you are supporting their hygiene efforts, they appreciate your practice more and will continue to recommend your office for ortho treatment.

To strengthen relationships with referring practices, orthodontic treatment coordinators (OTCs) should visit GP offices, introduce themselves, meet both the dentist and the hygienist, and explain the ortho practice’s hygiene support program. The OTC should communicate to referring practices that prior to bands being placed, your ortho office would like patients to receive hygiene care. In addition, the OTC should also emphasize that your office expects patients to maintain hygiene appointments throughout their ortho treatment.

A quality referral process requires consistent communication. There is a perception by some GPs that referral relationships are often overly one-sided, with the specialist receiving most of the advantages (in the form of referrals). By taking the lead on the important issue of hygiene care, you reassure referring dentists that your practice is looking after their interests and those of their patients.

This type of support benefits both practices and their patients. Not only is it the right thing to do from an oral health standpoint, but it will keep GPs referring their patients to your practice.

Roger P. Levin, DDS