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Initial Orthodontic Workup

Aug 17, 2007
Your first orthodontic visit, before treatment begins, will be a longer one so that a personal and detailed study of your teeth can be completed. During this examination, X-rays of your head, neck, jaws and teeth will be taken. Pictures of your profile, face and teeth will also be used. Later, you will be able to compare these images to the results of your treatment. An evaluation of your mouth will determine what type of bite problem (malocclusion) you may have.

At this time the Houston orthodontist may make impressions of your teeth from which dental models of your teeth will be made. This involves pressing a soft material over your teeth and leaving it for a minute or two to harden. Then plaster is poured in the impressions to make the dental models. You will be asked to bite into a soft piece of wax for a few seconds so that the dental models can be lined up to match your bite. The Houston orthodontist then has a duplicate of your teeth to study even when you are not in the Houston dental office.

With the final diagnosis, your Houston orthodontist will explain your malocclusion and, if treatment is recommended, you will be advised when it should begin, how long it will take, and what kind of appliances you will wear. The cost of the treatment may also be discussed at this point. All of these factors will enable your Houston orthodontist to create your personal and detailed study based on the relationship of your teeth to your entire head.

If treatment is advised, you and your parents will have to decide whether to proceed or not. It is an investment in your future dental health and that should be considered when looking at the cost. Many health insurance plans help pay the cost for orthodontics and your Houston orthodontist's Houston dental office may have convenient payment plans as well. You will also be told about the possible, but uncommon, risks associated with treatment. A signed consent form is usually required before treatment begins.

The best time to start treatment depends on your problem and dental development. An early orthodontic visit to the Houston orthodontist will enable you to plan the start of treatment at the most opportune time. Phase 1 or Early Treatment will probably start while your jaws are still growing. This is usually between 6 and 11 years of age. Once Phase 1 is complete, after about a year or so, you will see your Houston orthodontist regularly. If your adult teeth are not aligned properly when they come in, they will have to be straightened as part of Phase 2. Most people have their adult teeth by age 13. This second step can take 1 to 2 years and after that there will be an equal amount of time wearing a retainer to keep the teeth in place. Don't worry however if treatment doesn't start early. Your problem can most often still be corrected. In fact many people don't begin treatment until they are adults. Regardless of your age or malocclusion, a personal treatment schedule will be discussed with you during your first orthodontic visit.
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