I bet I get asked half a dozen times a day by fellow orthodontists on OrthoPundit, via FB messenger, via text, via email and on our ProOrtho FE Study group if we charge extra for RPEs, broken brackets, clear brackets, etc. given our low fee at Smiley Face. It’s 10:23 am and I’ve already been asked by three different people today alone. At the risk of being repetitive I’d like to try and make it clear once and for all because it’s obvious that I’ve done a bad job of explaining this in the past.

  • There is no charge, ever, for the initial visit, x-ray or consult with the doctor and a copy of the x-ray is yours to keep for free whether or not you decide to have treatment at Smiley Face
  • At Smiley Face we only have one fee for braces – $2998.00. If we decide you need treatment then everything is included even if we need to use an RPE or other device to get the job done. There is no Phase I or Phase II or other artificial, random labels at Smiley Face. A consumer either needs treatment or they don’t. If they do there is only one fee…
  • At Smiley Face we only have one financing plan – $292 down and $123 a month for 22 months. If you have an insurance benefit it may get even better!
  • At Smiley Face only have one additional product for those who get braces, our seven-year Retainer Assurance program – $615 or 5 payments of $123 is the cost for this completely optional service
  • When a patient pays for braces at Smiley Face they get all of this included:
    • Putting the braces on is included in the fee
    • All the appointments and adjustments are included in the fee
    • Repairs are included in the fee
    • Taking the braces off is included in the fee
    • A set of custom, vacuum formed, clear retainers is included in the fee
    • Retainer checks are included in the fee
  • We also offer clear aligners for $1999 but the aligners are only for the simplest cases, we don’t do IPR, attachments or refinements and if the patient is unhappy after they wear the aligners they can apply their $1999 fee towards the $2998 braces fee and get braces, no questions asked.

I don’t treat overly difficult cases or cases that will take an extremely long time or cases with a low prognosis of success at Smiley Face. This is by design and central to the Smiley Face model. When one of these 5%, outlier cases walks in the door I explain who I am, what I do, why and I help them find a more traditional orthodontist who is happy to get the referral. This doesn’t happen often but case selection is a big part of the Smiley Face model and why it works so well. To do otherwise would be a disservice to the patients with difficult cases and to the 95% of people we are set up to treat affordably at Smiley Face.

We are very clear about what we do, what we charge and what we expect at Smiley Face. We know our goals, vision and mission statement and are fiercely loyal to what we have set out to do. And the results of this transparency/simplicity have been phenomenal in terms of customer satisfaction, business success and having incredible work/life equilibrium. What more can one ask for?

9 thoughts on “WE ONLY HAVE ONE FEE!

  1. This info. is Gold!

    We have a 1 year retainer insurance policy for 2 extra sets of essix retainers for $200. The policy is optional and the patients pay at debond. I would like to change the program to something more comprehensive and easier.

    In your approach, is the $615 built into the initial contract? Or are the 5 payments of $123 after debond? I don’t like my current setup where I feel like I’m ‘surprising’ patients with the optional fee near debond and it would be nice to have something that covered more years.

  2. We started a retainer program because patients wanted it. We offer the totally optional retainer program at the initial visit, at debond and at retainer appointments and we offer to finance it. Patients seem to really like it and most choose to purchase the program but everyone knows they don’t have to do it because they have a set of retainers included in the $2298 fee.
    I agree you don’t want any hidden fees or surprises. Sounds like you’re on the right track.

  3. Last question on this topic–Any advice on how to handle bonded retainer requests? I have a lot of requests for it as it has been a common retainer choice with other local orthodontists. I prefer essix retainers but I don’t have a great way to handle the 10-20% of Moms that request bonded retainers. I’ve thought about charging >$500 for the option but I’d rather not utilize them at all. Also, it feels weird adding on an extra fee for a retainer choice. There’s got to be an easy way to handle this small issue. Thank you.

  4. Thank you again for all of this wonderful information. I really enjoy this new perspective on our profession.

  5. We used to do upper and lower bonded retainers because the first two offices I bought did that. I tried to stop once and the dentists and patients had a fit so I went back to it. But bonded retainers suck for lots of reasons – kids don’t wear their essix over them at night like they are supposed to because they have too much confidence in the bonded retainer so when they are off at school and the retainer breaks there are big issues. I tell parents this. I also tell them that kids get buildup and cavities and even gum disease around them because they cannot floss. I keep a photo of exactly this handy and show them. This is how I was able to stop doing bonded retainers in my old practices and we don’t offer them at Smiley face. Good luck

  6. Wow, that’s a great idea. I will start it tomorrow and have example photos in the consult room. Thanks!!!

  7. Excellent post Ben!

    How would you suggest transitioning an existing practice to go through with a simple, transparent pricing model…without pissing off the existing patients and insurance companies?

    Do you file insurance on the patient’s behalf and let the insurance company pay the provider, or the resp party?

  8. I don’t see why insurance companies would be upset at all. As to patients, we changed from a 6250 fee to 3995 when we were in AR and probably had 10000 plus active ortho patients. We had a handful of people upset and demanding the new price but the easy way to handle that is to ask, “If I’d raised my fees would you demand to have that?”. It’s irrefutabe logic and we only had one person who refused to see reason so we gave them a refund and dismissed them from the practice. One out of thousands. Even if someone doesn’t like the new price because of that they paid, what are they going to do about it? Go elsewhere and pay more to get back at you? It’s much simpler than we orthodontists make it out to be.

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