Online Dental Education Library
Your first appointment is an exciting time! It's a chance for you to learn about the treatments and services that can help give you the best smile possible. It all starts with the initial consultation.
You should plan to spend at least an hour at the first visit. That's to ensure that no one has to rush, and that you get plenty of time to ask any questions you may have. You will meet one of the receptionists or patient coordinators, who will take some information from you and bring you through the office. Then it's time for some diagnostic work and an exam.
Making a Plan
A big part of the first visit is to determine what treatment is necessary to correct any problems found — and whether to begin now, or wait until a later time. The procedure starts by taking a set of regular photographs of the teeth in their present state. Next, a series of radiographic (X-ray) images will be taken. These show what's going on underneath the gums: the position and growth of bones and joints, and the teeth that are still below the gum line.
In some cases, an impression (mold) of the teeth is also taken to create an exact replica of the bite. This helps reveal exactly what the problem is and how best to treat it. The impression is made by biting down on some soft putty-like material for a few moments; then it's removed.
After that, it's time for the exam. Besides looking in the mouth, we you may be asked questions, such as whether the jaws make noise when the mouth is opening or closing, or if there are any problems chewing or swallowing. Taken together, this information will yield a proper diagnosis so a treatment plan can be finalized at the first visit.
Discussing Your Treatment Options
Following the exam, you may be told that things are just fine — or, treatment may be recommended. It might begin right away or at a later time, depending on the developmental stage of the teeth and jaws. Many times, you'll be advised to return for periodic checkups until it's time to start.
Whether you're starting now or later, the first visit is the best time to ask questions about the process. Topics to discuss include treatment choices, what to expect at the different stages of the process, and any of the following:
- Can orthodontic treatment benefit me (or my child)?
- What general procedures will be used to correct the problem?
- Are any options available (or recommended) for my treatment?
- Should I get treatment now, or is it better to wait?
- Will tooth extraction be necessary?
- How much does treatment cost? Are payment plans available?
- How long do you expect treatment should take?
When you leave the office, you should have a better understanding of how you can get the best possible smile.
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