First Visit

Every smile starts with an initial consultation!

At the first visit, diagnostic records are made to determine the best course of treatment. Diagnostic records typically include:

  • medical/dental history
  • clinical examination
  • photos of the patient’s face and teeth
  • X-rays

This information is used to develop a custom treatment plan for each patient. After we have evaluated your records, Dr. Hill will conduct a treatment consultation to explain all aspects of your treatment in detail. We will provide a complete clinical diagnosis regarding the nature of the problem, a written summary of the findings and a detailed plan that outlines your treatment goals, treatment length, and estimated fees. We encourage questions from both the patient and the parent, and we provide ample time to answer your questions.

See Our Patients Smiles

General Questions

What is the difference between an orthodontist and a dentist?
In Texas a dentist is allowed to perform any type of treatment they feel capable of handling. An orthodontist is a dental specialist who has the same degree as a dentist plus a certification that requires at least two years of advanced education in orthodontics from a school approved by the American Dental Association. Only a specialist who has successfully completed the approved course is called an orthodontist, and only an orthodontist may belong to the American Association of Orthodontists.
When should my child see an orthodontist?
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends an initial consultation no later than age 7. By age 7, enough permanent teeth have come in and enough jaw growth has occurred, that problems can be identified. Early consultation allows the orthodontist to determine the optimum time for treatment to begin. Many parents and some family dentists assume that they must wait until a child has all of their permanent teeth, only to find out that treatment would have been much easier if started earlier. Early treatment can eliminate the need for more drastic measures. In some cases, satisfactory results are unattainable once the face and jaws have finished growing. With proper timing, children may not have to endure years of embarrassment.
Why age 7?
By the age of 7, the first adult molars erupt, establishing an occlusion (how the teeth bite in the back). An orthodontist can monitor tooth relationship and width of the dental arches, evaluating space for teeth to erupt side-to-side and front to back. Timely check-ups can increase the chances for an incredible smile. Some examples of how a patient can benefit from early treatment are:
  • Reducing the need for permanent tooth removal
  • Creating room for crowded, erupting teeth
  • Influencing jaw growth, reducing more severe treatment later
  • Reducing the risk of trauma to protruding teeth
  • Preserving space for un-erupted permanent teeth
  • Increasing self esteem in developing children
How do I know if I need to see an orthodontist?
Recognize any of these early warning signs? It might be time to schedule an orthodontic exam.
  • Early or late loss of baby teeth
  • Difficulty chewing or biting
  • Mouth breathing
  • Finger sucking or other oral habits
  • Crowding, misplaced or blocked-out teeth
  • Jaws that shift, make sounds, protrude or are recessed
  • Speech difficulty
  • Biting the cheek or biting into the roof of the mouth
  • Protruding teeth
  • Teeth that meet in an abnormal way or don’t meet at all
  • Facial imbalance or asymmetry
  • Grinding or clinching of teeth
Is it too late to see an orthodontist if I’m already an adult?
A surprising percentage of our patient’s are adults. In fact 25% of all orthodontic patients are adults. Health, happiness, and self-esteem are vitally important to adults. No patient is “too old” to wear braces!
Does my family dentist need to schedule my appointment with the orthodontist?
You don’t need a referral from a General Dentist for an appointment at our office. Anyone can call who has concerns about their teeth or their child’s teeth. We send a comprehensive letter to your general dentist outlining everything we discuss to make sure that they can assist you throughout treatment.
Will my teeth straighten out as I grow?
No, they will not. The space available for the front teeth does not increase as you grow. In most people, after the permanent molars erupt, that space begins to decrease.
What will I learn at the initial exam?
There are five essential questions that will be covered during the initial examination:
  • Is there an orthodontic problem, and if so, what is it?
  • What must be done to correct the problem?
  • Will any teeth need to be removed?
  • How long will the treatment take to complete?
  • How much will the treatment cost?
What are some of the benefits of orthodontics?
There are numerous benefits to orthodontics. They range from minor aesthetic changes to physical and emotional health. For the longest time, braces were only considered for children and teens. That has changed, and more adults than ever have decided to join the movement to enhance their smile and protect their teeth. When the upper and lower teeth are aligned properly, the tremendous forces of chewing and grinding are more easily absorbed by the teeth, jaw bones and joints. This provides a person with a bite that will add to the long-term health and attractiveness of his or her teeth and smile.

Some of the benefits of orthodontics are:
  • More attractive smile
  • Reduced appearance-consciousness during critical development years
  • Increased self-confidence
  • More rapid promotion advancement
  • Improved dental function
Most often the reason for orthodontics will be one or more of the following:
  • Protrusion of the upper and or lower teeth
  • Misaligned, overlapping or crowded teeth
  • Gaps or spacing
  • Excessive tooth wear or breakage
  • Underbite or excess overbite
  • Poor jaw alignment
  • Unattractive smile
  • Difficulty in cleaning teeth
  • Difficulty in eating/chewing certain foods
  • Large teeth in a small jaw
  • Premature loss of teeth (baby teeth are space savers for permanent teeth)
How long will it take to complete treatment?
Treatment time obviously depends on each patient’s specific orthodontic problem and cooperation. In general treatment times range from 8 to 30 months. The “average” time frame a person is in braces is approximately 18-24 months.
Can I drop my child off for an appointment?
Yes. We understand that you have a busy schedule and we are happy to help make the most of your time. Most visits are only 30 minutes and we prefer to always speak to a parent at each visit so we ask that parents always check in with Shelley at the front desk before leaving their child.
What are some types of malocclusions (bad bites)?
Class I Occlusion –The lower front incisors sit directly behind the upper front incisors when the patient bites down. This is considered less destructive than Class II and Class III malocclusions.

Class II Malocclusion –The lower front incisors lay significantly behind the upper front incisors during the biting process; in some cases hitting the soft tissue behind the upper incisors. This is commonly referred to as an overbite and can cause discomfort in the jaw joints, premature bone loss, excessive wear of the teeth, and in extreme cases, tooth loss.

Class III Malocclusion –Commonly known as an underbite and occurs when the lower jaw is positioned in front of the upper jaw, making the lower jaw much more prominent. This can cause discomfort in the jaw joints, premature bone loss, excessive wear of the teeth, and in extreme cases, tooth loss.
Do braces hurt?
Generally braces do not “hurt.” Most people have some discomfort after their braces are first put on or when adjusted during treatment. After certain visits, teeth may be sore for a few days. In these situations, pain medications such as Advil or Tylenol will ease the discomfort. However, after most visits, patients do not feel any soreness at all. We often remind our patients, “It doesn’t have to hurt to work!”
Do I need to see my family dentist while in braces?
Yes! Regular checkups with your family dentist are important while in braces. Your family dentist will determine the intervals between cleaning appointments while you are in braces.
What is an emergency appointment? How are those handled?
If your braces are causing extreme pain or if something breaks, you should call our office. In most cases, we can address these issues over the telephone. If you require an emergency appointment, we will set aside time for you.
Are there foods I cannot eat while I have braces?
Yes. Once treatment begins, we will go over how to take care of your braces and what foods to avoid. Some of these foods are: ice, hard or chewy candy, raw vegetables and all sticky foods (i.e. caramel and taffy). You can avoid most emergency appointments to repair damage or broken appliances and braces but carefully following these guidelines.