So as I’d mentioned before, my husband is in the military… and depending on the job, moving is almost inevitable for most. I’ve put lots of planning and thought into having my teeth straightened, and they would’ve been fixed by now if I would have gone through with it after my first consultation when I lived in Nashville. Needless to say, I knew we would be moving then, but recently, we were sure we’d be in the same place for at least a few more years. Yet that turned out to be not so.
I’ve waited a couple months to write on this topic so that I’d have time to gather my facts. Moving across the country is difficult on so many different levels. First, there is the obvious- you have to leave the people you’re closest to… whether it be family or friends… or even the neighborhood convenient store clerks, it still sucks. Second, you have to learn your way around an entirely new area. In my case, that usually involves some tears and swearing, however I’m getting much better. And third, you have to make a new life in a place where you most likely know no one… and that includes finding new health care providers.
I know my blog is about Invisalign but I want to talk briefly about the dentist I unwillingly just left behind. His name is Dr. James S. Plaivech and if you were to categorize him in a ranking system where exceptional is the highest, well.. he’d most certainly be above that. He took over my first dentist’s practice (who was also Farah Fawcet’s dentist, as I’ve been told) when I was a little kid and has been my dentist ever since. Except for when I moved away to Nashville for a few years, which is where my appreciation of him went from great to soaring.
Upon moving to Tennessee, I had been introduced to the new experience of having to actually ‘shop’ for a dentist. Simple, right? WRONG. Without going into too much further detail, let’s just say I had to sort through several before I actually ‘settled’ for one… and the same exact thing is going on here on the East Coast in my new city. I’ve already fired one for charging almost $600 for a simple cleaning and check-up. I received my insurance bill in the mail, and after I picked up my jaw off the floor, I noticed they charged me $93 for “nutritional counseling”. Are you kidding me??? I called to dispute it and miraculously, the office told me they ‘went ahead and removed the charges from my bill’… ie: they probably charged my insurance company but decided not to bill me for their ridiculousness. For the record, they provided me zero counseling on my nutrition.
Dr. Plaivech’s practice has never done any crazy nonsense like that… so if you found this blog by Googling his name, go ahead and pull the trigger. He’s worth it. If you’re looking for a dentist who truly cares about your well-being and doesn’t turn you upside down and shake all the lunch money out of your pockets, he’s your guy. Plus, in my experience, his shots don’t hurt. So there!
Anyway… back on topic… since I knew nothing about this area, I began by utilizing Invisalign’s provider search. My goal was to find an orthodontist who held the premium title of Elite Preferred Provider, but as it turns out, there were none in my area. No biggie though.
After calling several offices here in Norfolk, I narrowed my choices down to two simply because of location and the desire to NOT battle the horrendous traffic. I began my phone calls by stating my business: “I am currently an Invisalign patient who is new to the area, and I’m looking to transfer my treatment. How does your office handle transfer patient cases?” Surprisingly, this question seemed to stump all but the office I eventually chose. Here, I was thinking that this would be an extremely common inquiry given that this is the most populated military installation in all of America. Guess I was wrong, because (aside from the office I ended up choosing) I was answered with, “Hmmm, well that’s a good question! …………could you please hold?” or, “Hmmm, well that’s a good question! Would you mind giving me a good contact number so that once I find out, I can call you back?” Wow.
The first office I contacted was Klar Voorhees Orthodontics. After holding, the receptionist returned to the phone and told me that once I signed the AAO form (American Association of Orthodontics form that would allow me to transfer my case from one doctor to another), then they could proceed with their consultation and go into further detail about the continuation of my treatment. What?!!. “Wait a minute… sooo, I have to officially end my treatment with my orthodontist in Texas, have him send my remaining aligners to you guys, and then you can talk with me about your fees, and whether or not you can pick up where he left off?” That wasn’t exactly verbatim, but that was the gist. She responded somewhat rudely and said, “I’m sorry, but before we can schedule you for a consultation, we need to have access to your Invisalign case.” THAT was verbatim. What the hell? Really? By the way, that is not the norm.
I was absolutely floored that the first place I called required so much. What ever happened to ‘shopping’ for a provider? After all, I am paying thousands out of pocket so why shouldn’t I have a choice? Were they all going to be like this? Luckily not. I narrowed my decision down to two board certified orthodontists and received a free initial consultation from them both. My decision was fairly easy and so I ended up going with the one who was less expensive, but not only for the reason of saving. Both had good credentials (but no Elite Preferred Provider title), it’s just that the doctor that I chose seemed to have a more reasonable way for charging what she was wanting to charge, and I’m all about reasonable. They broke it down for me by estimating the number of months remaining in my treatment, what they typically charge, and how many office visits I’d probably be needing. The other orthodontist’s office simply said, “Okay, we’ll take on your case and you’ll owe us what you owed your last orthodontist, right where you left off.”
Since I had recently had my pictures taken by my $600-teeth-cleaning dentist, I was able to provide those and have $50 knocked off as well (sweet!). So, I signed my forms and the second half of my Invisalign journey began. I waited for several weeks and when I didn’t receive a phone call about the arrival of my remaining aligners, I became worried (I was a week away from not having any new trays!!). I called and discovered that someone had forgotten to fax over my forms to have my crap sent over here. WTF. I was pissed. Did I make the wrong decision just to save a few bucks?? They apologized and told me, like it was no big deal, just to keep wearing my same aligners and to not quit wearing them (really? okay.) as if tacking one more week on my treatment wasn’t a big deal. Well, having these plastic things in my mouth is a big damn deal to me. Plus, I’m not a kid or an idiot who thinks that since I’m waiting for my next set of aligners, I can take the present set out for a little mouth vacation. Wow. I’m getting fired up all over again!
So, my aligners arrived on a Tuesday (I know because I requested the tracking number from my old orthodontist) yet I hadn’t heard from them. I called the next day, a Wednesday, and was told that they could fit me in two Tuesdays from then, because they’re only in that particular office on Tuesdays and they didn’t want to move my paperwork and Invisalign box to one of their other two offices. Really. REALLY? I kindly, yet sternly, told the woman that I did not want to put my treatment on hold for two extra weeks because someone in their office ‘forgot’ to follow through. They ended up squeezing me in the following Tuesday which only set me back about two weeks. So take note people… if you’re looking for a new orthodontist, find out their office hours and days of operation. If you have an emergency, ask what their policy is. As I’ve discovered, it is super important!
When I showed up for the appointment, my worries that I had possibly made the wrong choice in doctors disappeared. I spoke with my new orthodontist and she answered my questions One of my concerns was the ever-growing “black triangle” between my front bottom two teeth… caused by the straightening of my once-crooked incisors. I asked her if at the end, she would be able to do IPR (interproximal reduction) and file away some of my enamel in hopes to bring the teeth closer together, and ultimately close up some of the gap. She suggested that we just go ahead and do it right then and there… and I was game! When she was finished, I was taken aback by the even more noticeable space that was created. In my head, I thought… well, I’ve only got until January before this is closed… I can live with it. And I carried on with my day. Well, lo and behold, after the time with my next set of aligners was completed, the gap had almost completely closed. Awesome!! I still have a small “triangle” but I think we’re getting somewhere.