When you visit our office for an initial orthodontic evaluation, the orthodontist will perform a comprehensive examination to determine if orthodontic treatment is needed and present the initial findings to you that same day. During the exam the doctor will evaluate jaw, teeth and facial growth to determine if now is the best time to begin orthodontic treatment. If additional growth is recommended, prior to beginning orthodontics, the orthodontist will place your child in the practice recall system and continue to monitor your child as necessary as the permanent teeth erupt and the jaws and face continue to grow. This service is complimentary. If your child or yourself is ready to begin orthodontics immediately the doctor along with the practice treatment coordinator will explain to you the recommended treatment plan, show you the types of appliances available to treat your particular case, review estimated length of treatment, provide a cost estimate and work with you to customize a payment plan that fits your needs, and scheduled to have your appliances placed.
Following the initial examination, diagnostic records will be taken on each patient. Records confirm the doctor’s diagnosis and treatment plan and serve as documentation of the position of your teeth, lips and profile when you started treatment. Typically records include the following five items:
Panoramic x-ray – This type of x-ray takes captures an image of your teeth and jawregion. It helps in identifying any extra teeth, blocked out teeth, missing teeth, or any problems with your jaws, jaw joints or roots. Depending on your particular problem you may have to have several Panoramic x-rays taken throughout treatment.
Cephalomatic x-rays – This type of x-ray captures an image of your entire skull and profile. It is used to identify any potential growth problems and for recording diagnostic measurements.
Bite registration – Typically your bite registration is taken by having you bite your teeth together into a piece of thin wax. This allows your orthodontist to evaluate how well your top teeth line up with the bottom teeth.
Impressions/ Study Models – In order to make plaster models of your teeth (study models), you will need to have impressions taken as part of the records process. This entails biting into a tray of soft toothpaste or pudding like material (alginate) for about one minute. The material becomes set (or hardened) to a consistency of silly putty and then is taken out. Impressions are taken one at a time and you need one for the top and one for the bottom. This process is painless but can sometimes taste bad. In order to make this more enjoyable we offer a variety of alginate flavors for you to choose from.
Diagnostic photographs – These are pictures taken of your smile, profile, face, teeth and mouth. These pictures are again used to document your current status and will help the doctor track your progress and see how your smile is changing.
After the records have been reviewed, we will discuss with you and your child the final orthodontic treatment plan including what orthodontic appliances will be used, how long treatment will last, what foods to avoid, proper care of the appliances and teeth during treatment, etc.
The length of treatment for each patient varies based on the patient’s age, severity of the bite, and correction needs, but most cases can be completed in approximately 18-24 months. After the braces are removed, a retainer is prescribed and is to be worn continuously for a few months to a few years in order to set the tissues surrounding the newly straightened teeth. When ready, your orthodontist will inform you that you can now just wear the retainer at night or occasionally to make sure the teeth do not shift. In some cases, a permanent retainer can also be prescribed, which is a metal wire that is bonded to the back of the teeth to ensure that the teeth remain in proper position.
Patient cooperation is the key to successful orthodontics. Braces are strong enough to withstand the normal forces created during chewing, however, if they are abused, the braces can break. Broken braces and wire may poke into the cheek or tongue and cause sores in the mouth. Broken appliances can also lengthen the treatment time. Appliances must also be worn as prescribed to achieve the desired results.
Dental hygiene is also very important to prevent tooth decay or decalcification during treatment. Certain foods should be avoided to prevent breakage of appliances and also reduce the chance of tooth decay. We will discuss this with you in more detail on the day the appliances are placed, but for more information, please go to the “Caring for Braces” section.
You will be pleasantly surprised that orthodontics may not be as expensive as you thought. The total cost will vary by case and complexity, but we offer a number of flexible and affordable payment plans that will fit your individual needs. These will be discussed with you on the day of your new patient examination. Options include, but are not limited to the following: