9 Questions to Ask at Your First Orthodontist Appointment

Your First Orthodontist Appointment

What Should You Ask Before Getting Braces?

Committing to braces or other orthodontic treatments is a major decision for anyone—and that means it’s essential to ask questions and be informed about your options so you can determine the right next steps for you. 

During your initial visit at SOS Braces, you’ll have the opportunity to ask questions and talk through any of your concerns. We’re here to listen and to ensure you get the right treatment—treatment that suits your specific needs, lifestyle and orthodontic goals. 

That said, whether you meet with SOS Braces or any orthodontist, be sure you walk out of that first appointment informed and clear on the next steps in your treatment plan. Start with these must-ask questions.

What Credentials Do You Have?

You need to know your orthodontists and their supporting team can provide you or your child with the best possible care. Experience and education matter, especially when you’re talking about getting that picture-perfect smile.

During your initial appointment, confirm your orthodontist is board certified by the American Board of Orthodontics & Dentofacial Orthopedics. Other organizations that provide certification include the Academy of CranioFacial Palate, American Association of Orthodontists, as well as local certifications—depending on your unique treatment needs, these could be important distinctions as well.

What Will Happen Next?

During your first orthodontist appointment you’ll likely get a full examination, photos, and x-rays of your teeth, mouth and jaw so your orthodontics team can see what they’re working with on the inside and out. From there, it is possible your orthodontist may order teeth impressions or molds—these can then be used to create a treatment plan or, even, specific treatment pieces such as retainers, designed just for you.

Once this work is complete, your orthodontist will recommend the type of treatment for your needs. This may include simple go-tos like braces or retainers.

If you’re experiencing pain or discomfort, tell your orthodontist. This can be the sign of other problems below the surface that could need immediate attention and a comprehensive treatment plan now.

What Are the Costs for the Treatment?

It’s important to know upfront what the costs are for your treatment. In some cases, there may be more than one option available to you. You can speak to your orthodontist about your options so the right treatment plan for your oral health and your budget can be considered.

If you have dental insurance, your orthodontist’s team can confirm what’s covered and what will have to be paid out of pocket. Your first visit is a good time to get those insurance pre-approvals, either by calling with the office manager or billing manager, or by requesting pre-approvals directly from your insurance company once a treatment plan has been outlined. In many cases, your orthodontist will need to indicate this treatment is medically necessary before you can get final approval.

How Long Will It Take to Get Results?

Your orthodontist will create a customized treatment plan to address your specific needs—and seeing results fan range widely. During your appointment, be sure to ask about the expected length of your treatment plan, how many visits you’ll need to make, as well as how long he or she expects for your teeth to begin to show improvements. Most often, they will provide a range of time it will take as well as any factors that can change those estimates.

Dr. Harrison and the SOS team has been extremely professional yet warm and welcoming on every visit. My daughter’s orthodontic treatments are coming along wonderfully & I’m grateful for the entire process.
Quartella B.
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How Do You Care for Your Teeth During Treatment?

It may sound like a simple question, but it’s important to ask oral care basics—and, if there’s any issue, determine smart workarounds. For example...

  • Can you brush and floss normally before and during treatment?
  • Are there any special toothpastes or treatments to use—or to avoid?
  • Can you use teeth whitening products during treatment?
  • Should you expect any added sensitivity during treatment that could impact oral care?
  • How often should I visit my “regular” dentist during the treatment process?
  • Is there anything special he/she should know?

Your orthodontist will, likely, walk you through basic care best practices—ways to floss with braces, for example, or how to brush with certain oral appliances in-place. But, again, if you have specific questions or are unclear on care, be sure to ask.

What Can You Eat?

Like oral care, there may be some challenges—or, simply, differences—when it comes to eating during your orthodontic treatment. Chewy foods like bagels and hard rolls or chewy candies like licorice and gummies may not be good choices post-braces, for example. Same goes for crunchy foods, sticky foods, hard foods and, even, very sugary foods—so popcorn, caramel, gum, nuts, hard pretzels and certain fruits and veggies like apples, carrots and corn on the cob are, likely, off the menu for awhile.

That said, many people going through orthodontic treatments tend to come up with simple solutions so they can still enjoy their favorite foods. Cutting corn off the cob, for example, or steaming carrots can make them easy to eat, even with braces. Toasting a bagel may make it easier to chew, even during treatment. Over time, you’ll find solutions that are treatment-friendly.

Are There Alternative Treatment Plans?

In the past kids, teens and, even, adults were relegated to traditional metal braces. While this approach is still simple, affordable and effective, many patients opt for alternatives now.

Today, there are many ways to improve a smile. When you visit your orthodontist, talk about a variety of them. In many instances, your dentist makes a recommendation based on your unique needs including oral health, desired results and, potentially, insurance coverage. However, you may want to ask about other treatments so you can choose what’s right for you or your child. For example, many people opt for Invisalign over traditional metal braces—depending on your needs, that may be an option.

Will Treatment Hurt?

Many people associate dental procedures with pain—so many want to know if their orthodontic treatment will be painful or uncomfortable.

The reality? There is almost always some discomfort during treatment plans, whether it’s when you have braces put on, during tightenings or, simply, while your teeth get used to the new apparatus and start shifting. However, these procedures and processes don’t tend to be very painful—mild discomfort is most common.

That said, the level and type of pain differs from one patient to the next—you may feel no pain or discomfort while another person may be uncomfortable chewing for a day or two, for example.

Be sure to address any pain questions during this initial visit and confirm what you can and should do if you’re in pain or are struggle with daily tasks like eating, talking or sleeping. In many cases, your orthodontist will recommend some basic over-the-counter remedies that can curb pain in the early days.

What Is the Likely Outcome of this Treatment Plan?

It’s always important to know what to expect. However, every treatment varies based on an individual’s specific needs and, sometimes, it’s tough to tell how a patient will respond until treatment begins.

That said, be sure you’re clear on the ideal goals and outcomes of any proposed treatment plan. Even if things change, it’s important to understand going in so you know what to expect throughout the process. This will not only help you make the right decision for you or your child, but will help manage expectations throughout the treatment process—which, given the length of some treatment plans, can be very important.


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