Post-orthodontic perceptions of patients and guardians in a private practice setting
Littlejohn, Rodney D.
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The private practice of orthodontics is both a rewarding and challenging experience! It demands the mastering of many disciplines and skill sets to create a successful, efficient and profitable business. Not only is clinical excellence of utmost importance, but “Raving Fans” type of customer service and “Dale Carnegie” type relationship building and people skills development is key. Surveys and questionnaires to determine our ability to fulfill these requirements have been previously performed in university settings and recently at the University of Buffalo Orthodontic Department. These studies are important at the university level to evaluate patient and parent satisfaction with different facets of orthodontic treatment. This information is even more important to the orthodontist in private practice since competition and referral patterns differ significantly from university clinic settings. It would certainly be beneficial to the sincere and open minded orthodontist in private practice to know where we perform well and more significantly where we do not. We all definitely improve and learn more from negative feedback than positive! Parents and patients in two rural private practice settings were asked to anonymously provide their experience with each office to determine their level of satisfaction with our services. These studies were performed in-office from March 1, 2008 to August 1, 2008 on patients who had received comprehensive orthodontic treatment along with their guardians. One office, Littlejohn (RL) provided a total of 50 questionnaires. The other rural practice, Andersen (WA) provided 50 surveys for analysis. Return rate was 100% and neither orthodontist knew the origin of any of the questionnaires. Through the University of Buffalo School of Dental Medicine, statistical analysis was performed on the 100 surveys. The data was then thoroughly reviewed with the doctors by the statistician. The results demonstrated that the present study mimicked previous studies in many ways and there were no significant differences. Orthodontic treatment was deemed extremely important to overall health in both groups. Both parents and patients were extremely satisfied with final appearance, smile and arrangement of teeth! All groups indicated they would undergo treatment again and expressed a significant positive influence on self-confidence. Parents and patients indicated the most difficult aspect of orthodontic treatment was pain during treatment and difficulty in eating. All surveyed indicated high marks with desire to have treatment by an orthodontic specialist as well as extreme satisfaction with the doctor. Also, well over 90% of respondents reported they felt confident referring a friend or relative to the office. A wonderful compliment to a busy quality-oriented orthodontic practice.