by Jeffrey Eberting, D.M.D., M.S.
The lazy days of summer are beginning to wind down, and we parents are confronted with getting our children ready for the upcoming school year. This is the time where we seem to cram a last-minute vacation into our schedule while trying to purchase new wardrobes and school supplies for our children. As a parent, I have discovered that the summer break does not seem to be as relaxing a time as it used to be. There are camps to attend, vacations to plan – which, if you are like me, you will need a vacation FROM the vacation – and this year for me, high school sports practices. With all of this near-constant activity and planning, is there anything else we as parents need to do to ease the transition into the school year?
As it so happens, summer is an excellent time to begin orthodontic treatment! Most families have more flexible schedules during the summer months, and there is not the concern of having one’s child miss valuable classroom time. The initial few orthodontic appointments tend to be a little more time-consuming, and for this reason, summer is a great time to get braces. While I can’t speak for what other orthodontists do, here is a break down as to what is involved when a patient visits my practice up to and including having the braces put on the teeth. This should provide a reasonable preview of what to expect when visiting an orthodintist for the first time.
The first appointment is an initial examination. At this appointment, we obtain a health history and insurance information from the patient or parents. Usually, we will take a panoramic radiograph (an x-ray which goes around one’s head) to get an idea as to how teeth are developing. I, then, introduce myself to the patient and family, get an idea about what issues or concerns the patient would like addressed with regard to orthodontics, and conduct a clinical orthodontic examination. I share with the patient and family my findings and discuss treatment options. From there, my office manager will discuss the cost of treatment and any insurance coverage to be applied to the cost. If the patient is ready to get started immediately, and if our schedule allows for it, we can take diagnostic records that day. If not, we schedule an appointment to have that done. The initial examination appointment generally does not take more than forty-five minutes, if records are not taken.
Most families have more flexible schedules during the summer months, and there is not the concern of having one’s child miss valuable classroom time
At the diagnostic records appointment, the assistant will take two radiographs – a panoramic (if not taken at the initial examination) and a cephalometric. The cephalometric radiograph allows an orthodontist to assess the development of the teeth and jaws in relation to the rest of the skull. The assistant will then take photographs of the face, smile, profile, and five pictures of the teeth for different angles. With these diagnostic records, I can develop an orthodontic treatment plan which best addresses the dental/orthodontic concerns of the patient. This appointment takes about forty-five minutes as well.
Finally, the day arrives that the braces are placed on the patient’s teeth. Prior to putting on the braces, I review the orthodontic treatment plan and explain how the braces are placed on the teeth. The patient is then taken into the treatment area and the braces are placed! How long this takes depends on the treatment plan, but one can usually expect the appointment to take an hour to an hour and a half.
After the appliances have been affixed to the teeth, and barring no breakage of appliances, the appointments following should involve simple adjustments taking no longer than 15-20 minutes per appointment.
There is still plenty of summer left for you to schedule an appointments to get braces placed on your child’s (or your) teeth before the school year begins (or while the school year is still in the early stages). Do not hesitate to contact us at 690-7115 (Hardin Valley) or 983-3570 (Maryville) if you have any questions about the process. We are always looking forward to meeting new patients and making their lives brighter…one smile at a time!
Dr. Eberting owns Hardin Valley Orthodontics and holds degrees from Duke University and Temple University in both General Dentistry and Orthodontics. He is a member of the American Dental Association, the TN Dental Association, the Second District Dental Society, the American Association of Orthodontists, the Southern Association of Orthodontists, and the TN Association of Orthodontists. He is a Fellow in the Academy of General Dentistry. Dr. Eberting enjoys theater, music running, politics, reading and movies. He has three children.