Orthodontic braces are devices used to move your teeth into a desired position. They are used to correct a variety of dental problems such as overbites, underbites, crooked teeth and malocclusions. Braces often must be worn for two years or more, so it is important to know what to expect before you receive them. The initial consultation for getting braces generally includes imaging scans, additional dental records and a treatment plan. This consultation typically requires up to two hours.
The orthodontist will need to take imaging scans during the initial consultation to determine the orthodontic treatment needed for your teeth. Most types of braces require a cephalometric x-ray and a panoramic x-ray. The general purpose of a cephalometric x-ray is to take measurements of your head. Its specific purpose in orthodontics is to measure the spatial relationships between your skull, jaws and teeth. This will allow your orthodontist to identify the changes that must occur during your treatment with braces.
A panoramic x-ray is also known as an orthopantogram or “panorex”. It is a two-dimensional, half-circle image that extends from ear to ear. A panorex uses tomography, meaning that it relies on a series of individual x-rays to construct a single panoramic image. It shows all of the teeth in your mouth, including those that haven’t erupted yet. The orthodontist primarily uses a panorex to evaluate crowding and spacing problems with your teeth. This image also allows the orthodontist to evaluate the structure of the roots in your teeth.
An orthodontist will also need additional dental records before installing your braces. These include plaster models of your teeth and photographs of your teeth and face. These records can often be made on the day of your initial consultation.
The treatment plan will include an overview of the changes the orthodontist plans to make with the alignment of your teeth. The orthodontist will provide an estimate of the time you will need to wear your braces, which can be up to 2.5 years. Fee estimates and payment plans will also be presented at this time. You will usually receive your braces about two weeks after your initial consultation.