You may feel nervous and excited for your first appointment and consultation with the orthodontist. It is normal and natural to feel this way if you have not been to an orthodontist previously. For the first time patient, it may appear daunting and here are some tips to help you make the most of your first appointment.
1. Complete initial paperwork as accurately as possible
When you visit an orthodontist or dentist for the first time, you would have to fill up a patient registration form which has patient details. The information required would include standard identification details such as name, home address, phone number, contact person in case of emergency. Additional but not less important information would include insurance details in order to verify the insurance benefits, health and dental history etc. If the patient is under 18 years old, a legal guardian needs to accompany the patient. The paperwork needs to be completed before the consultation and gives the orthodontist an idea of how to prepare for the consultation.
2. Bring dental records such as photographs, x-rays and reports
Besides the administrative details, the orthodontist would require the patient's set of diagnostic records in order to determine the treatment plan and the course of action. These dental records include pictures and x-rays. Not only do these records guide the orthodontist in conceptualizing the treatment plan, they also inform the orthodontist of the need for additional diagnostics. The dental diagnostics also allow the dentist to have a record of where the patients' teeth and jaw alignment are at the beginning of the treatment and helps the orthodontist in evaluating the oral profile, lip and mouth posture and facial symmetry.
3. Co-operate with the orthodontist during the inspection of mouth
Once the diagnostic records are completed, the orthodontist will discuss the concerns with the patient. The orthodontist will also perform an examination to the face, lips, gums, teeth and bite to determine the orthodontic problems and the appropriate treatment strategy. The initial examination is important as it sets the foundation in determining the best course of action. At this stage, the skill and experience of the orthodontist can be evaluated with respect to the detection of orthodontic issues and the treatment strategy. During this examination, the orthodontist will also record notes to facilitate better communication with the patient's primary care dentist in order to best treat and fix the orthodontic problems. The orthodontist will explain all treatment options and recommend the most appropriate one.
4. Be aware of the various outcomes and course of actions prescribed by the orthodontist
The orthodontist can recommend 4 courses of actions. First, there could be no need for orthodontic braces treatment. Perhaps there are other other options that address the dental issues better. Also, the orthodontic problem could be relatively minor that the costs and risks associated with orthodontic treatment do not justify the benefits of the treatment. From a patient's perspective, this is the best possible outcome and the patient can go home with the knowledge and reassurance that there are little to no orthodontic issues.
Second, orthodontic treatment is indicated but should be deferred to a later date. A patient may require orthodontic braces treatment, however performing the treatment at the present moment is not ideal. This happens when the patient still has some baby teeth or some teeth are not in. Also the treatment may depend on the patient's jaw growth and further observation is required. At times, interceptive treatment for children may be indicated and the decision is best left to the professional judgement of the orthodontist. When these situations arise, the orthodontist will schedule another appointment a few months later in order to follow up on the growth and development of the teeth and jaw.
Third, orthodontic treatment is indicated but a specialist appointment is required. In some cases, another specialist needs to be consulted if additional dental work needs to be performed or other issues need to be addressed. This will require the assistance of another dental specialist. Some instances require the extraction of teeth before orthodontic treatment can begin. In other cases, there maybe underlying gum or bone issues which require the help of oral surgeons, periodontists and endodontists.
Fourth, orthodontic treatment is indicated and there are no barriers to commencing treatment. For this case, the orthodontist will require the patient to sign off an agreement regarding an informed consent. The financial arrangements will also be discussed such as appliance fees, diagnostics fees and treatment and review fees. The fee schedule will help the patient to understand the financial costs involved, the payment plan and whether insurance can be used to offset part of the financial costs. If the patient is comfortable and agreeable, orthodontic treatment can begin immediately during the next appointment.
5. Engage in follow up dialogue and 2 way communication with the orthodontist
Throughout the entire process, it is important for patients to engage with the orthodontist. It is good to read up beforehand on the various orthodontic conditions. This will enable the patient to ask better questions and examine the orthodontist's methodology and strategy. Asking the right questions will also make full use of the costs the patient has incurred for the first consultation as the patient taps into the expertise and experience of the orthodontist.
If you want to find out more about orthodontics and the various issues, feel free to read the various articles on our website. If you want orthodontic advice specific to yourself, do not hesitate to call us at 67389332 or make an appointment with us today!