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What Happens At A Braces Consultation | A Complete Guide

What Happens At A Braces Consultation A Complete Guide

Be Fully Prepared for Your Initial Braces Consultation

what happens at a braces consultation image


I’m sure you will agree that not knowing what happens at a braces consultation can make anyone nervous. 

Recently a mom and her 11 year old daughter, Chloe, came to our office.  She nervously walked up to the reception counter with a folded piece of paper in her hand. She handed our receptionist a referral from her pediatric dentist that indicated her daughter needed braces. This was her first child that needed braces and she had no idea what the process entailed.

Chloe asked, “mom, what’s gonna happen today?” She immediately shushed her because she didn’t even know herself. 

For this mom and daughter this situation could have been much easier. With the proper resources to prepare her for a braces consultation, most of her worry and anxiety would not exist.

In this article I am going to tell you what happens at a braces consultation. This article will give you the tools to calm your nerves and reassure your child that their consultation will go well.

what happens at a braces consultation image

Braces Consultation – Overview

The initial braces consultation is more than just laying back in a chair and opening wide!  Your ortho consult is an opportunity to really find out who your doctor is and what their treatment philosophy is. 

You want their view of patient care to match up with your view for the best possible doctor-patient relationship.  This may be your best chance to find out if this is the right or wrong place for you, before you commit to treatment. If you are transferring you orthodontic treatment, this is your opportunity to meet your new orthodontist and discuss your case. 

Related article and great read here –>  “The Complete Guide to Transfer Orthodontic Treatment

So, are you ready to learn what happens at a braces consultation? 

Let’s go! 

Braces Consultation – New Patient Paperwork

Registering as a new patient will require you to complete intake paperwork. Each office will have their own required forms. However, here are the basics that you will need to complete at almost every office.


New Patient Intake Forms

This basic paperwork will include your name, date of birth and contact information. Intake paperwork will also clarify who will be the responsible party for the treatment.

The responsible party is financially responsible for the treatment and signs all consent forms. Because of this, the responsible party must be at least 18 years of age to sign a valid contract. 


Medical History Forms

Your orthodontic office will require a medical history form to evaluate your overall health. This is to make sure that you are healthy enough to treat. Occasionally, we may refer you out for a medical consult for certain medical conditions, complications or syndromes. 

Take the time to read each item and complete it on your medical history. This is very important to the success of your treatment.

ProTip Do not circle everything or draw a line through checkboxes. This is an indication to us that you did not read the paperwork.


Dental History Forms

A thorough dental history is important to evaluate your dental journey. Your dental history will give your orthodontist your history of treatment in general dental offices. This paperwork includes your an assessment of completed dental work, surgical history, traumatic history and TMJ history.  

A complete dental history also includes your own evaluation of your at home hygiene and any habits. Poor nutritional habits, regular tobacco use and history of illicit drug abuse will also be found on your dental history. These are all important aspects of your dental history that can affect your treatment. 

what items you should bring to your braces consultation

Dental Insurance Forms

If you carry dental insurance you will want to complete an insurance verification form from during your initial consultation for braces. This paperwork allows the office staff to make the necessary calls to verify your benefit. 

If you carry a dental PPO(DPPO) or dental HMO(DHMO) plan, you may have different fee schedules for different offices.  Each office has negotiated and contracted fee schedules with each insurance provider. The office is required to use this particular fee for your treatment as an In-Network provider. This means that you may see different fees at different offices for the same treatment. 

Without this paperwork, your orthodontist will not be able to give you the negotiated rate, which is your discounted rate for carrying that insurance. Complete this paperwork to get your best possible rate for your treatment.


HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act(HIPAA). At your initial braces consultation you will receive a notice describing the office’s privacy practices regarding your personal health information.

In short, this notice describes how medical information about you or your child may be used and disclosed. It also describes how you can access this medical information. Lastly, the notice describes your rights with respect to Personal Health Information(PHI) and how you can exercise those rights. 

HIPAA requires an office by law to:

  1. Maintain the privacy of your Personal Health Information
  2. Provide you with notice of legal duties and privacy practices with respect to your Personal Health Information
  3. Follow the terms of the given notice.

Personal Health Information

Examples of how orthodontic offices may use your PHI

  1. For payments and dental insurance claims to reimburse providers for services rendered
  2. To avert a serious threat to harm someone’s health or safety. We may disclose PHI to federal, state, or local agencies to allow such entities to carry out the necessary investigations and responsibilities
  3. When requested as a part of a legal proceeding. If you are involved in a lawsuit or dispute, we may disclose PHI in response to a court order, subpoena, discovery request

Learn more about PHI here.

Upon completion of all of the necessary new patient intake paperwork, you will be shown to a consultation room. Here you will meet the Doctor, Treatment and Financial Coordinators. 


Braces Consultation- Doctor Examination


Treatment Coordinator Introduction

With your paperwork completed you will now be greeted by a Treatment Coordinator. The Treatment Coordinator will introduce you to the practice and the amenities it has to offer. In some offices an orthodontic assistant will take initial records including orthodontic x-rays, photos of your teeth and scans of our bite.

Some orthodontists will want to see these diagnostic records prior to seeing you in the chair for an exam. Some doctors prefer to only take these initial records when a patient is starting treatment, so your experience may differ. 

Here is an example of the initial records we take for an ortho consult

initial records taken at a braces consult

initial records courtesy of Dr Jesse McGuire

The Treatment Coordinator will verify all of your documentation, summarize and relay this information to the doctor. The orthodontist is now ready to see you for the examination!

Chief Complaint and Examination

Meeting your potential orthodontist is a big deal! As a patient, this first impression is a chance to evaluate the demeanor and beside manner of your potential doctor.  Introduce yourself, focus and actively listen to your potential new partner in the orthodontic journey.

Your doctor will start by introducing themselves and may make small talk to break the ice. We want you to be comfortable during your ortho consult before the questions start!

The most important question we will ask is the reason why you are in the office. Orthodontist call this your “Chief Complaint”. This is an important concept. When all is said and done, your orthodontist should offer you a treatment plan and options that resolve your chief complaint.

At this point the orthodontist is ready to begin the examination. This will start with your overall appearance, head, neck and an intra oral exam.

Your x-rays will reveal any missing, impacted, or extra teeth. X-rays can also reveal cysts, tumors or pathologies hidden in the bone.  Your soft tissues including your gums, throat and tonsils will be examined. Lastly, your hard tissues such as your teeth will be examined. 

a young lady dental patient meeting dentist for the first time

Problem List and Treatment Plan Creation

Using the diagnostic data gathered from the examination, your orthodontist will  create a problem list. This customized list is a collection of everything your orthodontist plans to fix during your treatment. We use you chief complaint as a filter when establishing priority for the problems and how we will treat them. 

By combining your initial records and problem list your orthodontist will create a skeletal and dental diagnosis for you. This is a very important step! Your orthodontist can not create an appropriate treatment plan without an accurate diagnosis. 

Your treatment plan will provide a road map of how to get you from beginning to the end of your treatment. Orthodontic treatment plans will contain the individual steps in your orthodontic journey. It will also include an estimate of your time in treatment.  Treatment times in braces vary from person to person.

It is very difficult to predict an exact number of months that treatment will be completed. So, most orthodontist offer an estimate in the form of a time window. For example, your estimated treatment time may be 6-9 months, 12-18 months, 20-24 months, or 30-36 months.

Treatment planning in orthodontics is based on experience and skill, but also there’s some art to it. There are textbook ways to solve common orthodontic problems. However, the art of treatment planning requires creativity to solve unique problems. An excellent orthodontist is a combination of an expert diagnostician plus a creative problem solver. -Dr Jesse McGuire, Orthodontist


Braces Consultation – Coordinating Your Treatment

Coordinating Your Orthodontic Treatment

The next step of the braces consultation is to coordinate your treatment and review financing options for your treatment. This takes place in two steps, the first being treatment coordination.

You will sit down with the Treatment Coordinator to discuss your selected treatment plan and estimated time in treatment. This is a great time for you to ask lots of questions regarding your treatment.

RELATED POST A great way to prepare a list of questions is to view our related post titled  “What To Ask At A Braces Consultation“.

Your Treatment Coordinator will also review your options for the type of braces that are available for your specific treatment. 

You may have many options including traditional metal braces, clear braces, gold braces, self-ligating braces and clear aligners such as ClearCorrect or Invisalign.  Some offices offer lingual braces as well. Select the option that fits your lifestyle, budget and overall goals for your treatment. 

Braces Consultation – How to Pay for Your Braces

Paying for Your Orthodontic Treatment

Budgeting for orthodontic treatment is a challenge for families of all incomes because braces are not cheap! Beside a house and car, a $5000 orthodontic treatment is one of the most expensive things that a family may pay for!

However, braces can be affordable. Most offices offer financial plans to help you finance the treatment you need.

For starters, make sure that you have clear understanding of your overall treatment fee. This all inclusive fee covers your initial consultation, initial records, initial bonding of your braces or fabrication of your clear aligners.

Your treatment fee should also include all of your adjustments, retainers and retainer checks during the retention phase of your treatment.

It is very important that you verify exactly what your treatment fee includes and does not include. Some orthodontic businesses use tricks and sales tactics to hide treatment fees. You don’t want any surprises that unexpectedly cost you in the future. 


Payment Options

Your Treatment Coordinator will help make your treatment affordable by offering options to help you finance your treatment. In orthodontic offices, the 3 most common payment methods are: 

  • Payment in full with a PIF discount
  • 3rd party financing with a partner such as CareCredit or Lending Club
  • In house financing with a down payment requirement.

Between these 3 options, Treatment Coordinators will be to make treatment affordable for the majority of patients who are seeking treatment.

ProTip: This is the stage in your consultation where you want to attempt to negotiate your fees for treatment. Like every other business cash is king! Therefore, you have the most negotiating leverage when you are paying cash, paying in full and starting treatment the same day. 

At this point, your exam has been completed, treatment option selected, and financial plan worked out.  The final step in your braces consultation is to complete the financial contracts and treatment consents to make the treatment official.


Financial Contract

Most orthodontic offices utilize a very easy to understand financial contract.  Your contract will outline the fees for your treatment, any treatment upgrades and the expected insurance benefit amount.

Your financial contract is 100% your responsibility as the responsible party. In the unfortunate event that an insurance stops payments, the remaining unpaid balance will fall into the patient share. This will need to be paid to settle the account with the office.

Review and clarify any final questions before signing your financial contract. Sign and date to make it official. 


Treatment Consent

You will also need to sign a consent to treatment for yourself as a patient, or your minor child. Nothing can move forward, legally, without this consent so it is very important. Take the time to read over each line in the consent. For accuracy, ask the Treatment Coordinator for a highlighter and go through each line, highlighting what you need further explanation on. 

We always ask for patients to read and initial each statement on our consent form. We do this to make sure that every point has been read and understood prior to starting treatment. 

After you finish reading and clarifying items on the treatment consent form, sign and date to make it official.

You may also have supplemental consent forms that are necessary to begin your treatment. If you present with a special condition such as Periodontal disease or are starting treatment with short blunted roots, there will be additional risks associated with orthodontic treatment. This should be discussed at length during your braces examination with your orthodontist. As a result you will have supplemental consent forms to sign prior to starting treatment. 

supplemental treatment consent short blunted roots on the upper teeth

impacted canines plus short, blunted roots of the upper teeth

Office Policy Forms

Finally, you will need to review all office policies specific to your orthodontic office. This will include policies for orthodontic emergency visits, payment and financial policies. Many offices have broken bracket/appliance policies in place to motivate patients to be compliant with the foods that are allowed with braces. 

You will want to know what these policies are. For example, I charge $50 per repair after the 3rd broken bracket. At the 3rd repair I tell patients “ be careful…next time that $1 bag of chips is going to be a $51 bag of chips!” This usually is reminder enough to stick to the foods that are approved for braces.

Office policies can be can be numerous so make sure to talk to your treatment coordinator about any specific policies that you think may affect you while in treatment

Here is a short list of office policies that you may run across

  • General Office policies
  • Weapons policies
  • Emergency policies
  • Financial policies
  • Broken bracket and appliance policies
  • Transfer and discontinuation of treatment policies

After your comprehensive exam, treatment coordination and contracts are signed your initial consultation for braces is complete! You are now ready to start your braces or clear aligner treatment!

Braces Consultation – Conclusion


In summary, now you know exactly what happens at a braces consultation!

Hopefully this article has provided you with the resources and tools needed to educate you on the ortho consultation process. This should calm any fears, and much the process much easier for you or your child. 

Good luck with your consultations!


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