The purpose of the initial orthodontic evaluation appointment is to:
- Get to know the orthodontic team and for them to get to know you.
- Learn whether orthodontic treatment would be beneficial, and if so, how.
- Learn about potential treatment options, treatment duration, and cost.
- Determine whether you are comfortable with the orthodontist, the staff, practice culture and atmosphere, and the office’s amenities.
- Observe whether the practice runs on time and is properly focused and present during your appointment.
- Have your questions answered.
What to look for:
You should be properly greeted and made to feel at home reasonably soon after entering the office. Observe the atmosphere and tone of the office–is it friendly, calm, welcoming, fun, and professional, or is it hectic, tense, and perhaps indifferent to your presence? Some offices take an x-ray before the doctor sees you; I prefer to determine whether an x-ray is appropriate before prescribing it or them. We also determine whether the x-ray already exists at another office (generally before your arrival). There will typically be an initial discussion before the orthodontist conducts the evaluation. Consider whether this discussion is about YOUR goals or the practice’s. Was your input encouraged? Did the orthodontist do more listening or talking? This visit should be about mutual discovery, where together, you and the orthodontist learn about your oral condition, goals, and needs. Following the actual evaluation, the findings and needs should be shown to you and clearly explained, and any of your questions answered. Initial records may then be taken, including photos, x-rays, and impressions or a scan of your teeth. The process going forward should be clearly explained. Was the treatment coordinator happy to help you schedule other visits, even for a visit to another doctor, such as your dentist or an oral surgeon? In the end, the entire orthodontic team should display a passion for oral health and helping you along the path of discovery.
How to make the most of your visit:
- Be on time with any necessary forms filled out. The practice has reserved time for your benefit–don’t waste it!
- Ask your dentist to communicate any concerns to the orthodontist before your visit.
- Think about what you’d like to achieve so that you can share your goals and concerns with the orthodontist.
- Ask any questions that come to mind–this is all about you!
- Bring your insurance information so that the financial coordinator can confirm your orthodontic benefits.
- If you’re appointment is a second opinion, have the initial orthodontic practice forward any x-rays and photos that were taken.