A male dentist explaining about teeth to a small girl in the dental office

What To Expect at the First Orthodontist Appointment

You think your child — or even you — might benefit from braces, so you took the first step and scheduled an appointment with the orthodontist. No need to worry — the first consultation provides the perfect place to answer all your questions and set expectations for treatment. Find out what happens at the first orthodontist appointment, so everyone feels prepared.

What Can You Expect From the First Orthodontist Appointment?

Many orthodontists begin with introductions to the staff and a tour of the office to help patients feel more comfortable. Generally, the first appointment's goal is to determine if treatment is needed and — if so — where to start. The orthodontist will direct your child to the dental chair and give a thorough examination. They will look at the position of the child's teeth and ask the child to bite down so they can observe how the top and bottom teeth come together to identify any malocclusions or irregularities in the bite. The orthodontist might also take photographs or x-rays to identify any internal problems with the jaw structure or teeth.

At this point, the orthodontist will determine if and what kind of treatment is needed. If your child needs a specific appliance — such as a retainer, braces, or expander — the staff will take an impression of their teeth. Before you leave, the orthodontist or staff member will walk you through each step of the treatment plan and answer the following questions:

  • What is the orthodontic problem, and why is it important to fix it?
  • What are the options to correct the problem?
  • Will any teeth need to be removed?
  • How long will the treatment take?
  • How much will the treatment cost?

The staff member will review your insurance benefits and provide financing options and payment plans. The entire consultation usually takes between one to two hours.

How to Prepare Your Child for the Appointment

If your child expresses fear or anxiety about their first pediatric orthodontist appointment, ease any tension by honestly answering their questions. Help them feel prepared for their first orthodontist visit with these strategies:

  • Walk them through what will happen at the appointment. From the first introductions to the final goodbye, highlighting each step of the way will hopefully ease their worries.
  • Remind them of the benefits. Having a correct bite and healthy smile will give them a lifetime of benefits — from reducing the risk of developing cavities to making it easier to eat and talk. And you can't forget about straight, beautiful teeth!
  • Schedule a fun, after-appointment activity. Whether that's a trip to the park or the ice cream shop, create a place for you and your child to discuss the next steps and gauge their feelings about the treatment ahead.

What Comes Next?

If you agree to go ahead with treatments, you will make an appointment to get the appliances placed. At that appointment, the orthodontist and staff will explain the importance of good oral hygiene and teach you and your child how to care for the appliances. Your child will usually need appointments every six to 10 weeks to determine the teeth' progress and make adjustments.

While the pediatric orthodontist and his staff make up an important part of your oral care team, the patient is also a key player. Orthodontists want their patients to feel comfortable and knowledgeable from the first appointment to the last. If you have any questions or concerns at any time during the treatment, don't hesitate to ask!

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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