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Orthodontics How It Works

Want to learn how the orthodontics process works? Here’s your step by step guide.

Step 1: Your Initial Orthodontic Consultation Helps Us Determine Your Needs

The American Association of Orthodontics recommends, and we agree, children should be seen by an orthodontist at age 7. This may sound young to those of us who remember braces when we were in our teens, techniques and technology have changed since then. Our orthodontists can detect subtle issues in tooth and jaw development even while baby teeth are still present. Orthodontic consultations to keep an eye on your child’s smile are no charge until you begin orthodontic treatment. These brief checkups, typically on an annual basis while your child is young, will help us care for you effectively, and plan for orthodontic treatment before issues arise. Also, any patient at any age is always welcome to schedule a complimentary orthodontic consultation. We love to meet with you and discuss what’s possible with your smile.

Step 2: Your Orthodontist Helps You Get Started with a New Patient Exam

For some, this may be Step 1. Once you’re ready to pursue orthodontic treatment, at your first Orthodontics visit, one of our Madison Orthodontists will complete a thorough new patient Orthodontic examination to determine your needs. Our office generally schedules an hour or so for this comprehensive evaluation to give your orthodontist ample time to evaluate you as the patient, as well as to answer all of your questions. We may request a special orthodontic x-ray and photographs to help diagnose which orthodontic treatment is best for you.

If you are ready to start treatment, your First Choice Dental orthodontist will be able to provide you with an approximate cost of the treatment, a timeline for how long it will take, and options for completing treatment. The treatment coordinator will take records including additional X-rays and impressions. She will also schedule the series of appointments necessary to get you started and can discuss options for financing your treatment.

Step 3: Our Treatment Coordinator Will Explain Recommended Treatment Options at Your Treatment Conference

At the orthodontic consultation, your Treatment Coordinator will go over all of your orthodontic records and show you examples of braces, Invisalign aligners, and any appliances that may be involved in your treatment. The consultation is scheduled for 20-30 minutes. Once you've decided to move forward with treatment, your appointment to get your braces on can usually be scheduled the same day or within a few days of your consultation appointment. Invisalign™ impressions can usually be taken at the treatment conference appointment if you desire.

Step 4: Meeting with Your Orthodontist To Get Your Braces On!

The appointment to get your braces on takes about 120 minutes. One of our highly trained Orthodontic Assistants will assist the orthodontist with the placement of your appliances and answer all your questions as she walks you through the entire process from beginning to end. The assistant preps the teeth for the brackets and then your orthodontist will carefully position each bracket on each tooth. Because this is such a critical step in the entire process, your orthodontist and First Choice Dental invest time in the smallest details to achieve the best results. On the day your braces are placed, you can be sure that every detail has been considered, including bracket positioning, bracket prescription, bracket type, and wire selection.

Step 4: Starting Invisalign treatment with the Help of Your Orthodontist

If you've opted for Invisalign treatment with our Premier Invisalign provider Dr. Sarah Santos, your impressions for Invisalign treatment leave our office the same day they are taken. These impressions are sent to our Invisalign lab to be scanned and the computer model of your teeth is constructed. From this model, your custom aligners are created.

Once the aligners are received in our office, you are notified by phone and an appointment is set up to bond/glue any small, clear colored buttons/attachments to your teeth. These clear attachments act as your 'braces' and allow us to manipulate the teeth. Your first aligner is inserted and instructions on wear and care are given. Your Invisalign aligners are worn for 22-23 hours of the day and are usually changed every 2 weeks, or as prescribed by your First Choice Dental orthodontist. For more information on Invisalign please visit Or contact us to schedule a complimentary orthodontic consultation to learn more about Invisalign.

Step 5: Adjustment Visits During Orthodontic Treatment

Throughout your orthodontic treatment, we’ll help you schedule routine ortho checks which are brief appointments to adjust your brackets, answer questions and help check progress. These appointments typically take no longer than 15-20 minutes and take place every 8-10 weeks throughout your treatment. We’re able to avoid visits every 4 weeks because of the unique Damon bracket system we use. If you have Invisalign treatment, these checks occur every 4-6 weeks, and enable us to answer questions, check progress and get you the next set of clear aligners.

Step 6: Your Orthodontist Helps You Get Your Braces Off and Start With Retainers

You may have been anticipating the end of your Orthodontic Treatment during the last few visits, and now your First Choice Dental orthodontist has said that it is time to get your braces off. Our office will schedule you for the next available appointment, called a "debanding" appointment. It is important that you make arrangements with your Dentist to have a good cleaning, check-up, and fluoride treatment following the removal of your braces. Some patients opt for teeth whitening at this point as well.

Removing your braces will only take us about 80 minutes and you will be pleased at how easy and comfortable the process is. At this appointment, you will be provided with a photo of your teeth before you had braces so you can compare how your beautiful smile looks now! Before you leave the office to show the world your outstanding smile, we will need to take a final set of Orthodontic Records. We will also make you a set of retainers to hold your teeth in position. Your First Choice Dental orthodontist will decide which retainer is best for you and will prescribe a protocol for wearing your retainers. Most patients are advised that they should wear their retainers indefinitely in some capacity. The general rule is "wear your retainers for as long as you want your teeth to stay straight".

Questions? Contact Our Orthodontic Team

If you have any questions at all about the First Choice Dental Orthodontics process, please call our ortho team at any time at (608) 848-0820 and we'll put you in touch with an orthodontist or treatment coordinator who can answer your questions right away!