Getting braces is a big step – some may even argue it’s a rite of passage. As with any major decision in life, it can be a little intimidating. If you feel nervous about undergoing orthodontic treatment, knowing what to expect at your first appointment can help put your mind at ease and even make you excited at the prospect of getting a brand new smile.
Here’s a brief overview of what will happen at your very first appointment in our office.
Just like any other doctor’s office, we ask our patients to fill out a few basic forms. These forms ask you to give us details about your home address, any insurance coverage, and your health history. We also ask questions about the health histories of your family members. It’s important to be as specific and thorough as possible when relating information about your health, as many different kinds of health conditions can have an impact on your treatment and overall dental health.
Once you have completed your paperwork, we will gather information about your teeth and jaw. This is done mostly through x-rays, which we usually take in the office, however, some patients bring recent x-rays from their dentist. X-rays are painless and safe, and they allow us to see a complete picture of the roots of your teeth, your jaw, and your overall bone structure. This is a critical part of developing your orthodontic treatment plan.
If you’re an adult patient, and you haven’t had dental x-rays taken in a while, you might be pleasantly surprised at how far x-rays have come in recent years. Today’s x-ray equipment is portable, digital, and results in significantly less radiation exposure than x-ray machines used in previous decades.
Your first exam will seem a lot like an ordinary exam at your dentist’s office. It’s a painless procedure that allows us to look at your teeth, your gums, and your oral health. We may count your teeth, assess the health of your gums, and even take an impression of your teeth so we can refer back to it as your orthodontic treatment progresses. The impression material is a bit goopy and soft when we press your teeth into it, but it hardens into a cast once we’re done. This process doesn’t hurt, and many people actually find it fascinating to see their smile “outside” of their mouth. We also usually take several photos of your mouth at this time – so get ready to smile!
With diagnostic records in hand, and your first exam complete, we can move on to discussing the best treatment plan for you.
For some patients, it’s too soon for braces. In some cases, the patient is too young, and moving forward with braces isn’t a good option at this time. If you still have baby teeth, or your 12-year molars have not yet erupted, orthodontic treatment or we may have to do treatment in 2 Phases. In some patients, however, there are preliminary treatments available to speed up orthodontic treatment in the future. If you’re a candidate for this, we will let you know.
In other patients, braces aren’t actually necessary. If you have very minor crowding, or you have small gaps in your teeth, you might actually benefit from a different type of procedure. For example, some patients get great results with Invisalign®, which features a series of clear retainers specifically shaped to gently and slowly move the teeth to their desired position. One of the great things about Invisalign® is it allows you to undergo orthodontic treatment without actually wearing braces. You can also remove the retainers – called aligners – to eat and brush.
When you discuss your treatment plan, we will consider all the options available to you, including the length of your treatment, the types of materials we will use, and methods of financing your orthodontic care. Innovative technology allows us to show you exactly how your treatment will progress and what the end result will look like.
Ready to Get Started? Schedule Your First Visit Today
Whether you’re an adult looking to get the perfect smile you have always wanted, or you are a parent interested in getting braces for your child or teen, we look forward to meeting you. We serve patients in the greater San Diego region, including La Jolla, Carmel Valley, and Del Mar. Get in touch today to find out what we can do for you.