Orthodontics makes it possible for individuals to get a healthy, functional, and aesthetically pleasing smile. Regardless of whether the treatment involves braces or aligners, the alignment process starts with a consultation at a family dentist’s office. Learn about what to expect when visiting a dental office for orthodontics.
The initial evaluation
During the first appointment, the family dentist reviews the patient’s dental records, appointments, X-rays and medical history. These details will help the dentist decide the steps to take moving forward. The patient’s dental health, current situation of their teeth and relevant medical condition will help the dentist choose the most suitable orthodontic treatment and set the treatment plan.
Oral examination and imaging
The dentist will physically examine the patient’s mouth to be sure there is no existing dental issue before proceeding with treatment. The examination may also include taking a dental impression and using X-ray imaging to determine jawbone density and other physical attributes that may affect orthodontic treatment. Generally, the evaluation is like any dental exam and should not cause any discomfort or pain.
After the exam, the dentist may recommend certain dental procedures before starting orthodontics. For instance, some patients may need a tooth extraction in case of crowded teeth or gum grafting if they do not have adequate gum tissues to support the teeth. A dental professional may also suggest teeth cleaning and filling dental cavities to keep the teeth free of infection.
Preliminary treatment plan
After performing a thorough assessment of the patient’s medical history and oral health, the dentist will provide a preliminary plan for orthodontic treatment. This typically contains the recommended treatment option to achieve the desired results, estimated treatment duration and the time to start treatment. The dentist may take a picture of the patient’s smile, and if possible, provide a computer-generated image of what the teeth will look like after treatment.
At this point, the patient will have the chance to ask questions and express any concerns about treatment. The dentist will provide instructions on aftercare, including how to clean the orthodontics, foods to eat and precautions to take. Some offices provide extra patient education materials related to the treatment. Afterward, patients schedule an appointment to get the orthodontic device.
Beginning orthodontic treatment
If no preliminary dental procedure is necessary, then the dentist can schedule the next appointment immediately after the consultation. Placing braces over the teeth can take between 30 to 90 minutes.
For clear aligners, the dentist will send the patient’s dental impressions to the manufacturer's lab, which will be used to create the custom aligners. When the aligners are ready, the patient will return to the dentist’s office to them fitted. The process is typically easy and straightforward from there. Patients will need to visit the dentist every few weeks for routine checkups.
The first step in orthodontics is meeting with the family dentist for a consultation. The dentist will be happy to answer your questions and help you on the path to getting straighter and beautifully aligned teeth.
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