And so it is with internet webpages. I have listed Ten Key Factors which I hope will help you when browsing health care related web sites which focus on Orthodontic care, including braces and Invisalign.
Don’t be guilty of “MacThinking”, and no I am not referring to the Apple MacIntosh.
1. Does a Braces or Orthodontic Manufacturer own or run the Website ?
Is it a company which is reviewing or describing its own products? For example, it should not be a surprise if just about everything you read about “ABC Orthodontic Braces” on their own company website is positive. Companies are in business to sell products and make money, and their focused approach is understandable. If one searches Google for the term ” Braces ” many of the top ranking web pages turn out to be slick corporate sponsored productions. The consumer that’s why may be receiving truthful or not and unbiased information. Be aware of this and understand the limitations and scope of the information you are getting.
2. Is the Website there just to make Money ?
I have seen websites with moderate amounts of information on Braces but laced with intense advertising. Links require one to sit through a short pop up advertisement before getting to the targeted material. Such sites often are not run by companies or doctors, but by entrepeneurs, and the information may be old and dated, and not cutting edge.
3. Is this a Doctor’s Personal Website ?
This may or may not be a good thing. On certain search engines such as Google or Yahoo, if one types in a keyword such as Invisalign (Braces), sponsored links will come up. Doctors will often pay Google for example to place their “advertisement website” at the top under the “sponsored category”. Such websites often have the primary mission of driving patients to a doctor’s office. While there is nothing wrong with this, the information presented is often simply cut and paste generic information developed for the doctor by website developers. Others may simply link to an Orthodontic Manufacturer’s website. Some doctors’ websites use cut and paste information simply supplied by Mega Orthodontic Company A or Mega Orthodontic Company B. Many other such websites feature generic clinical pictures of smiling children, and a website for a doctor in Los Angeles may end up sharing the same pictures as another website for a doctor in New York.
4. Who is the Doctor and what is he/she trying to say or do ?
In the Orthodontic industry, many companies use ( and pay or reimburse ) doctors for being spokespersons for their Braces and other products. This is similar to Tiger Woods promoting Nike sporting goods. There is nothing wrong with this, but understand where the person is coming from. A doctor who gives raving testimonials about a certain type or brand of Braces but he or she may not have an unbiased point of view. That doctor may in fact be receiving endorsement money from a manufacturer to lecture on these products or promote their virtues on their own website.
5. Who is the Doctor and what are their Qualifications ?
When it comes to offering Orthodontic treatment, not all doctors are the same. For the General Dentists offering Orthodontics, some have pursued additional coursework, and attained fellowships in such organizations as the Academy of General Dentistry. Other General Dentists, because they are legally permitted to perform orthodontics, also offer orthodontic services without necessarily having the experience and depth of clinical training of other more widely trained General Dentists or Orthodontic Specialists ( Orthodontists ). The websites may or may not clearly spell out how well trained the doctor is, and additional questions may be helpful. Does the website clearly spell out whether the Doctor is a General Dentist or an Orthodontic Specialist (Orthodontist) ? Be cautious. Dentistry in 2008 is now very complex, and no one doctor, specialist or generalist, is able to know and do it all. Draw your own conclusions about the hype and overstatement of many of these supposed ” Super-Doctors”.
6. Clinical Data and Testimonials.
It has been said that the Devil can quote Scripture for his own purposes. Moreover, saying so does not necessarily make it so. If a product is ” Doctor Recommended “, just what does that mean ? Research involving human subjects is very difficult and often involves limited numbers of trial subjects. A “finding” may not be statistically significant, although clinical versus statistical significance is an area that can also be endlessly discussed.
7. Does the Product, Service, or Treatment Apply to Me ?
Be careful that in the heat of marketing that you are not being sold something that you do not need, or which may not be effective in treating your condition. Orthodontic related appliances such as those to treat sleep apnea, snoring, TMJ symptoms, headaches, and more may or may not be effective. Surgical or other more profound medical intervention may be needed. Invisalign, for example, may be an excellent choice for some Orthodontic patients, but not for others.
8. Are you being “Oversold” or experiencing ” Bait and Switch ” ?
Yes, American television and media advertising have promoted BMW automobiles as “The Ultimate Driving Machine”, but do you really need a BMW ? If you live in the city you may not need a car at all. Clear braces or Invisalign may sound great, but other Orthodontic alternatives may in fact be more appropriate for your particular situation. In many circumstances Orthodontic treatment likely is the most desirable solution for an “Orthodontic problem” . However, some websites would have you believe that cosmetic dentistry which they call ” Instant Orthodontics” to “fill the gaps and correct the crowding” with cosmetic dentistry is the best solution. This instant solution may come at the grave expense of having to reduce the size and shaper of teeth by drilling and grinding into sound healthy tooth enamel. Carefully analyze the pros and cons.
9. Are you looking for a General Dentist or an Orthodontist ?
Don’t be Misguided. Many people use websites to locate a General Dentist or dental specialist (Orthodontist). Understand that many doctors pay not so small sums of money to place themselves highly on the sponsored sections of certain internet website search engines. All Orthodontists are dentists. Not all dentists are Orthodontists. All Dermatologists are physicians for example, but not all physicians are Dermatologists.The choice of where you want to obtain your skin care or orthodontic care is up to you. You can choose to go to a General Practitioner or a Specialist. The important thing is that you know the difference and what you are getting.
10. Information Changes Quickly and so should a Website.