Reduce the risk of complaints about orthodontic treatment

complaints about orthodontic treatmentAlison Williams explains how you can reduce your risk of receiving successful complaints about orthodontic treatment from an adult patient.

The number of adults seeking orthodontic treatment in the UK is increasing (Evans 2018). There has also been an explosion on to the market of ‘branded’ orthodontic systems. These systems tend to focus on improving limited aspects of a patient’s malocclusion, usually the alignment of the anterior teeth. They are advertised as being suitable for use by GDPs, with a minimum of training. Unfortunately, the rise in popularity of adult orthodontics has been accompanied by an increase in complaints about orthodontic treatment. Indeed, the GDC’s Dental Complaints Service has recently reported that the highest number of complaints that they receive are about orthodontic treatment (GDC, 2019). These complaints are directed at both GDPs and specialist orthodontists.

Complaints about orthodontic treatment – the treatment process

It is not uncommon for adults to complain that their orthodontic treatment is taking longer than they had anticipated. Both specialists and GDPs may be at risk of receiving a complaint from an adult about how long treatment is taking. Especially if they lack experience in adult orthodontics.

Specialist orthodontists usually aim to treat the whole, or most of, the malocclusion in an adult patient. Tooth movement in adults tends to be slower than in adolescents. Adults however may also find it difficult to attend regularly, due to work commitments etc. These factors, along with problems with compliance, for example, wearing elastics or aligners for a sufficient number of hours per day, will lengthen treatment-times.

An inexperienced specialist orthodontist, who has trained on teenage cases, may not take these factors into account, when advising an adult patient about long treatment will take. A complaint is…

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