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Questions to Ask an Orthodontist

Updated: Nov 26, 2023

An orthodontic visit may seem routine, but your initial consultation is far from it. In fact, it’s the perfect opportunity to get to know your orthodontist and ask any questions you have about your orthodontic treatment. After all, you want to make sure you’ve chosen the right professional for the job!

Here are the most important questions to ask before your treatment.

What is your training background?

Orthodontists must complete additional years of tertiary training once they qualify as a dentist. Each orthodontist’s level of experience and education may vary. Ask your professional where they attended university, how long they’ve been in practice and if they’ve carried out any specialty training over and above general dentistry.

Do I really need orthodontic treatment?

This is an important question to ask. No matter what type of treatment you choose or receive, it’s important to take care of your smile. Orthodontics is rarely (if ever) necessary, but can be considered an optional luxury for those wishing to optimise function and aesthetics. If your teeth are crooked or overcrowded, removing all the plaque that gets stuck between your teeth is difficult. When it builds up, plaque can result in gum disease. Incorrect bites can also cause teeth to wear and require restorations that may be a hassle to maintain.

As each patient is unique, you may wish to ask your orthodontist to provide more information on the specific risks and benefits associated with your case. Remember, you only get one set of adult teeth, so it is wise to understand all the implications - whether or not you decide to go ahead with treatment.

What treatment do you suggest?

Asking what orthodontic treatment you should have seems obvious, doesn’t it? But your expectations may well differ from the services your orthodontist suggests. It is best to make sure you’re both on the same page.

Make sure you tell your orthodontist what you want to address in terms of your bite and the alignment of your teeth. Emphasise the results you want to achieve and find out what the suggested treatment is intended to achieve.

What are the treatment options?

There are plenty of orthodontic treatment options available today, and it’s important to consider all your options before you make a decision.

Other than traditional metal braces, there are lingual braces, ceramic braces and clear aligners like Invisalign®. Depending on your orthodontic alignment issue, particular options may work better for you. That’s why you need to have an honest discussion with the orthodontist about which one will be the most successful.

Are there any other options?

After your initial consultation, your orthodontist will have a suggested course of treatment for you. Ask them to walk through the decision for you and then ask about alternative orthodontic treatments. This is another way to ensure you understand all your options. Even using the same appliance, there may be options regarding the course the treatment takes, as well as the overall treatment goals. In addition, adjunctive treatments can be considered to provide a different (sometimes more ideal outcome).

You should also remember that one option to not to have treatment at all. You can ask your orthodontist the pros and cons of different options. This is a great way to find out more information, and to understand what's most suitable for you.

What exactly will change with treatment?

Every treatment has positive effects and several side effects, even orthodontics.

So, ask your orthodontist if the suggested treatment could change your facial profile. Or, find out if your treatment will affect how you speak and chew.

Often, orthodontic changes are positive, but you should know what to expect before making a decision. Keep in mind that the changes aren’t immediate. Orthodontic change is designed to be a slow and steady change, which is why you may also wish to understand how long treatment is likely to take.

This tends to be important where patients have a special event in mind, such as an upcoming wedding. If your aim is to have achieved certain treatment goals by any particular date, it is essential to discuss this upfront with your orthodontist, to make sure these plans are realistic, and compatible with your overall oral health.

How long will the orthodontic treatment last?

The length of your treatment will vary depending on the treatment type, treatment goals, and also your case complexity. Traditional braces tend to take anywhere from several months to around 3 years. Clear aligner treatment like Invisalign® is often completed within around 12 months.

It all varies, though, so get the facts about your orthodontic treatment before your treatment starts.

Will the treatment be painful?

Overall, the great majority of our orthodontic patients report that any discomfort they experienced was fairly easy to manage. But you might experience a little soft-tissue and tooth tenderness when you first receive your appliances and go for the necessary adjustments. If you choose a braces treatment with wires and brackets, the wires might irritate the sides of the mouth, but this usually subsides within a couple of days.

Fortunately, there are ways to relieve irritation, like using orthodontic wax over any rough surfaces, as well as rinsing your mouth with warm salt water to help ensure any abrasions do not become infected.

Can I see similar cases and their treatment?

Even if your orthodontist has many years of experience, it is still reassuring to see cases similar to yours. Every orthodontic issue is unique, but you should feel free to ask if you can see pictures of past work. This will help you get an idea of the quality of their work, and help you feel more at ease about your orthodontic treatment.

How can I maintain my dental hygiene if I have braces?

If braces are the choice for you, ask your orthodontist how to keep your teeth clean during your treatment. There are certain tools and materials you can use, such as floss threaders, to keep up your oral hygiene as you undergo orthodontic treatment.

You’ll also want to know which foods you can eat and which to avoid to help keep your braces clean and doing what they need to. Brushing and flossing are important, too, especially with braces, to ensure you really do have a perfect smile at the end of your treatment.

How much will this all cost?

Finally, you’ll need to find out how much your orthodontic treatment will cost. Orthodontics can quickly rack up into the thousands of dollars. But your orthodontist may offer flexible payment plans to make your treatment more affordable.

Make sure you choose an orthodontist that is prepared to work with you to get the care you need. Ideally, at a price you can comfortably afford.

At Fine Orthodontics, we offer a wide range of orthodontic treatments and payment plans, including low-deposit options. Our desire is to help you achieve a healthy, straight smile and continued orthodontic care.

Book your free* appointment with the friendly and skilled Fine Orthodontics team today.

*If orthodontic X-rays are required, a fee of $180 applies. See Terms and Conditions. Treatment may not be suitable for you.

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Specialist Orthodontist Input by Dr Martin Fine BDS, MSc, MSc

Dr Martin Fine

Dr Martin Fine

Specialist Orthodontist Dr Martin Fine, BDS, MSc (Orthodontics), is based in Sydney's Eastern Suburbs. With over 30 years' experience in private practice, Dr Fine has expertise working with a wide variety of orthodontic appliances, including braces and Invisalign. He has presented at orthodontic conferences globally, and has taught postgraduate orthodontic students at the University of Sydney. Dr Fine is a member of both the AAO (American Association of Orthodontists) and the ASO (Australian Society of Orthodontists), and is a former president of the Alpha-Omega Dental Society's Sydney Chapter.  In the past, Dr Fine's research has been featured in the Angle Orthodontist journal. Dr Fine is committed to providing outstanding patient care using the latest and most effective techniques. Most recently, Dr Fine has developed and introduced the innovative FineLine clear aligner system, which has been specifically developed to meet the needs of patients at Fine Orthodontics.

Written by Danielle Long

Danielle Long

Danielle Long.png

Danielle Long has been assisting in the creation of beautiful smiles at Fine Orthodontics for over 15 years. Holding graduate qualifications in English and Education (BA/BEd UNSW), Dani brings a unique blend of knowledge to her role. She has worked in many different areas of the practice, having served as both Clinical Assistant and Treatment Coordinator over the years. Continually fascinated by the art and science behind orthodontics, Dani is always keen to share her knowledge in order to enhance patient understanding and experience. Dani focuses on facilitating exceptional patient communication and delivering in-depth orthodontic treatment information. She strives to ensure that every individual embarking on their orthodontic journey with Fine Orthodontics feels informed and supported.

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