What To Expect At Your First Orthodontist Appointment

December 14, 2016

What To Expect At Your First Orthodontist Appointment

It is normal to be nervous anytime you are doing something for the first time. If you’ve never been to see an orthodontist before, it is not surprising that you may be wondering what is going to happen at that visit. Here’s what your first visit will be like in our office for Braces or Invisalign…

As with all visits to any Dental healthcare provider, there will always be some preliminary “paperwork” that will need to be taken care of before we get started. This can take place on our website, by filling out the paperwork that we’ve mailed to your home, or by filling out forms in our reception area when you arrive. The paperwork asks for standard things like your name, address, and phone number, insurance information (so we can verify your benefits for you), your health history, your dental and Orthodontist history, and a brief explanation of what you’d like to accomplish during treatment. If you are under 18 years old, you’ll need to come with a legal guardian.

Once the paperwork is taken care of, a member of our Orthodontics staff will obtain a set of dental diagnostic records to help us decide the most appropriate Orthodontics treatment for you. These records usually include pictures and an x-ray. Some dental problems don’t require x-rays and a few patients bring copies from their dentist or Orthodontist. If there is any question about the need for additional x-rays, I’m the one who will let my staff know what is required. X-rays help me to see the health and position of your teeth, bone, roots, and jaws. There are some decisions that I just can’t make without them. The purpose of the pictures is not only so we have a record of where your teeth are at the beginning of treatment, but also to help me evaluate your profile, lip posture, and facial symmetry.

With your diagnostic records completed, you and I will take a minute to get to know each other and discuss your dental health concerns. I’ll then examine your face, lips, gums, teeth, and bite to help me determine what’s good, what could be better, and the best way to get from here to there. During your dental exam, my treatment coordinator will take notes so that I can communicate with your primary care dentist about the problems I see and how to fix them. Finally, I’ll explain all of your possible treatment options, like Braces or Invisalign, and then recommend the one I feel is the most appropriate for you. There are generally four outcomes after your exam.

First, if I don’t think you need Braces or Invisalign, I’ll let you know. There might be other options that are quicker, easier, or that better address your chief complaint. Additionally, there are times when I just don’t believe that you would benefit by orthodontic treatment. This typically happens when a problem is so minor that the cost and risks associated with Braces or Invisalign outweigh the benefits.

Second, you might need Invisalign or Braces but are not ready for them yet. This most commonly happens when you still have baby teeth to lose, your 12-year-molars are not yet in, or your treatment is dependent upon your jaw growth and we need to observe it for a while. In any of these situations, we’ll schedule you to come back a few months down the road so that we can check on your development. This is called a recall or observation appointment. The length of time until your next visit is usually six months, but that can vary depending upon the reason we’re waiting.

Third, although you may need Invisalign or Braces, you might need to see another dentist first. This can happen if you need to have some routine dental work finished, have some gum or bone issues that need to be addressed, or your treatment will require the help of another dental specialist. If you have unfinished work or just need your teeth cleaned before we can start, I’ll refer you back to your primary care dentist. If your jaw sizes don’t match or if you have impacted teeth, you may need to see an oral surgeon. If you have gum problems, you will be referred to a periodontist. If you need a root canal for any reason, I’ll recommend that you see an endodontist. Orthodontic treatment sometimes requires a team approach and this is best coordinated before your Braces or Invisalign go on.

Finally, the most common result of your initial Orthodontics exam is that you are ready for Braces or Invisalign and can get them on right away. My Ortho treatment coordinators will work with your family to make the best possible financial arrangements and get the necessary informed consent. Once that is done, you are ready to get started! Believe it or not, the majority of patients today actually choose to start the process of getting Braces or Invisalign on the same day as their exam since they have already taken time off from work or school. My staff and I have streamlined the initial exam process to make it as convenient as possible for everyone involved. See you at your first appointment!

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