Frequently Asked Questions: Teenage Orthodontic Patients (tm) Part 6

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    What Happens During Orthodontic Treatment?

    Contents of this section: The Records Appointment, The Consultation, Putting On Your Braces, Tightening Appointments, Done and On To Retainers

  1. If I need braces, what will the orthodontist do next?

    The next step is called the "records appointment". Frady Cat finds the records appointment scary, but Cool Dude knows that there is nothing to fear. You will come in for half an hour and the orthodontists assistant will take a number of measurements of your mouth. During this appointment the orthodontist's assistant will take:

    • Panoramic X-Rays

      You stand or sit in a special chair with your head very still, while a special x-ray machine sweeps around your head. The x-ray machine produces an image of all of your teeth and your jaw and parks of your skull. This x-ray tells the orthodontist if the roots of you teeth are OK, whether your jaw is OK, whether the joint is OK and whether there are any other complications such as extra teeth. We have been told that about 5% of people, including Count Dracula, have extra teeth. Guy Funi liked the panoramic x-rays because they found some extra teeth, just like Count Dracula's. Extra teeth are hereditary; they come from your ancestors. I wonder if Guy Funi is related to count Dracula. He sure does not look like Dracula?

    • Cephalometric X-Rays

      You go to a second x-ray machine, and the orthodontist's assistant takes additional x-rays of your head. These x-rays tell the orthodontist if your bite is OK and if your mouth is growing normally. The orthodontist can also see cavities.

    • Bite Registration

      You bite down on some special paper or wax, so the orthodontist can see if your top teeth line up with your bottom teeth.

    • Impressions

      The orthodontist's assistant will place a container containing something called "alginate" in your mouth and ask you to bite down. The alginate is like putty; it allows your orthodontist to build a model of your mouth so he can see exactly how your teeth come together. You will need to bite into the alginate twice, so the orthodontist can make a model of both your top and bottom jaw. Old fashioned alginate tasted awful so the alginate was the worst part of the records exam. However, people make flavor drops to make the alginate taste better. Flavor drops come in many different flavors: strawberry, mint, pina colata. If you do not like the taste of the algenate your orthodontist is using, be sure to ask him to add flavor drops.

    • Pictures of your face and teeth

      The last stage of the records appointment is to take pictures of your face and mouth. The orthodontist uses the pictures to keep track of how your smile is changing. The orthodontist's job is to make your mouth look excellent, and the photo's help.

    Once the records appointment is done, the orthodontist will be able to figure out what he needs to do to fix your mouth. The orthodontist will then schedule a meeting with you and your parents called a "consultation" to discuss what the orthodontist needs to do to make your smile perfect and how much it will cost.

  2. Is there anything that I need to do before the consultation?

    Discuss things with your parents, to make sure that they know what you want. Your parents will be committing a lot of money for your orthodontic treatment, and it is a little scary for them and you. Make sure that you discuss everything with your parents before you start treatment.

    Also, remember that your parents are doing this because they love you. If they did not love you, they would not spend $3,500 to $8,000 on your treatment.

  3. What questions should I ask the orthodontist at the consultation?

    In the FAQ for parents of orthodontic patients we list a number of questions that your parents should ask. You might look at them.

    Besides that, you should ask any questions that you have: What will you look like when your braces come off? Will there be anything you cannot do while you have braces? How will braces change you? What fun things can you do with your braces? Does the orthodontist offer the styles and colors of braces that you want? Is he going to provide you fun braces or old clunky ones? Will he provide flavored materials if you want?

    It is your mouth and the orthodontist will need you to help him so the orthodontist should be happy to answer your questions.

    At the end of the consultation, it is up to you and your parents whether to accept the orthodontist's treatment plan or go somewhere else.

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