Orthodontia allows individuals to achieve their most healthy, functional, and visually pleasing smiles. Whether you wear traditional metal braces or an alternative, the alignment process begins with a consultation at your orthodontist’s office.
Because most people only go through orthodontic treatment once, chances are this consultation will be a new experience for you. Knowing what to expect can help you feel more comfortable as a patient yourself or as the parent of a child about to begin orthodontic treatment.
In this blog, we discuss what you should expect from your initial orthodontics consultation.
Medical and Dental History Overview
As with any first appointment with a medical professional, an orthodontics consultation includes going over your relevant medical history. In this case, your orthodontist may look over your dental records, such as your appointment history and X-rays, as well as your general medical history.
This information helps your orthodontist determine the best course of action for you moving forward. The current position of your teeth, your overall dental health, and relevant medical conditions all help your orthodontist make decisions about the type of appliance he or she will use and how the process will go.
In some cases, you may need to schedule a routine dental procedure before your orthodontic treatment can begin. For example, if you have unfilled cavities, those should be taken care of before your dental appliances are installed.
Oral Examination and Imaging
In addition to going over your medical records, your orthodontist or his or her staff will perform an oral examination. This close-up look allows the team to identify any potential obstacles that may not have been obvious from your dental records.
The examination may include any of the following:
By-hand examination where the professional assesses your teeth and soft tissues using hand tools like dental mirrors.
Mold taking where the team will apply a dental putty to your teeth and allow it to cure, leaving perfect imprints of your teeth when the putty is removed.
X-ray imaging, which may include X-rays of your entire head to evaluate your jawbone density and other physical characteristics that could affect orthodontic treatment.
For the most part, this examination should feel just like any other dental exam. The exam is noninvasive and should not cause discomfort or pain.
Once the examination is complete, your orthodontist may recommend that you have certain dental procedures performed before your orthodontic treatment begins. For example, patients without adequate gum tissue to keep their teeth firmly anchored may need to receive grafts before undergoing orthodontic treatment.
Your orthodontist may also recommend having your teeth cleaned and any cavities filled to ensure that you don’t start orthodontic treatment with any outstanding oral health issues.
If your orthodontist is also your dentist, you should be able to set up any prerequisite appointments at the end of your consultation. If you see another dental professional for your general oral health needs, you’ll need to schedule those appointments before visiting your orthodontist again.
Preliminary Treatment Plan Discussion
Once your medical history and current oral health have been assessed, your orthodontist will present a preliminary plan for your orthodontic treatment. This plan typically includes an estimate on the length of time needed and the best method for achieving the desired results.
Some orthodontists also take a picture of your current smile at this point. Some offices have the software to give you an idea of what your teeth will look like after treatment, while most simply use this picture as the “before” image of your smile.
Patient Education Period
Your orthodontist will give you plenty of opportunities to ask questions and address concerns. He or she may also provide you patient education materials regarding the procedures you’ll undergo.
The patient education materials you receive should include guidelines for cleaning your orthodontic appliances and eating healthily while undergoing orthodontic treatment. Feel free to ask any questions you aren’t sure are answered in your educational guides.
Insurance and Payment Option Discussion
Once you and your orthodontist know what to expect from the treatment process, you’ll receive an estimate on the procedure’s cost. Many orthodontists help patients determine how to best use their dental insurance to get the smile they want at the best price.
You may also be able to use payment plans or financing to cover the cost of your orthodontic treatment.
Scheduling of Your First Treatment Appointment
If you do not need to have any dental work done before you start orthodontic treatment, you should be able to schedule your next appointment directly after your consultation. Placing your braces or fitting you for aligners may take anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes, so reserve the appointment with that timeline in mind.
Ready to achieve your best smile? Schedule your free orthodontics consultation with the experts at Cobbe Family Dental & Orthodontics today.