When you see a new dentist for the first time — or it’s been a while since your last dental exam — you may be wondering what to expect at your appointment.
Although each dental office is different than the next, your regular checkup will general consist of the same steps in some way or another, including:
- Tour of the Office: Many offices will take new patients for a quick walk through of their practice to see different rooms or technology, such as the sterilization area, lab, or digital equipment.
- Medical History Review: Your new patient paperwork provides your dentist with important information about your medical and dental background. Be sure to bring a list of all medications and supplements that you take, as well as the dosage of each. Certain types of prescriptions or surgeries may contraindicate dental treatment, so it’s vital to communicate with your provider.
- Baseline X-rays and Photographs: In order to fully assess all of your smile’s needs, recent dental X-rays are a must. This may include a set of bitewings or a full mouth series/panoramic, or both. Additional digital photographs may be taken throughout the course of your exam in order to better communicate any findings that your dentist needs to make you aware of.
- Consultation with the Hygienist or Assistant: One of the staff members will review your information and discuss any concerns that you have.
- Examination by the Dentist: After speaking with the assistant or hygienist, the dentist will step in to perform a comprehensive examination and consultation. Some of the things being evaluated will include your:• Periodontal (gum) health
• Oral cancer risk and screening
• Existing dental work
• Bite alignment
• TMJ function
• Primary concerns
• Newly diagnosed conditions
- Proposed Treatment Planning: Your dentist will visit with you about their findings, sharing their recommendations and any applicable treatments you have to choose from. If you require immediate care, some treatments can start the same day. But in most cases, your treatment will be mapped out on a customized care plan and scheduled at a future date. The treatment or insurance coordinator will confirm your benefits to take existing coverage into account when calculating the costs of your care. Some people do not need any treatment, which is ideal. The treatment planning step is only needed if you have issues you need to correct or an elective service, such as cosmetic procedures that you’re planning for.
- Dental Cleaning by the Hygienist: As long as your teeth and gums are generally healthy, the hygienist will usually clean your teeth during your first dental checkup. For moderate to severe gum disease, you’ll be rescheduled for a series of deep cleanings at a separate appointment.
To keep your smile healthy, you’ll want to plan on scheduling a preventative care appointment every six months.