For one reason or another, it's been several years since you saw a dentist. In a way, your first visit back will be like starting over. That first appointment will set the tone for all the visits that occur from now on. Here's what you can expect to happen, and what the team is likely to recommend in terms of various general dentistry treatments and procedures.
Getting Your Paperwork in Order
Since this is your first appointment in several years, creating a patient account will be the first order of business. The information that you provide will help the team have a better idea of what sort of general dentistry support you need.
Along with basics like your name, address, contact data, and insurance coverage, expect to provide information about any past dental treatments you’ve undergone. This would include anything from root canals to tooth extractions. The goal is to build a history and establish a starting point for any future treatments you may need.
Remember to bring along information about any medication or over the counter products you currently take. That would include vitamin or herbal supplements. The dental team will need to be aware of any chronic conditions present, as well as any short-term ailments that you and your family doctor expect to resolve at some point.
Your medical history will impact how the team will approach your dental health. The course of treatment will take into account any possible side effects from your medication or over the counter products. This is important, since interactions may occur that would complicate procedures and place you at a greater risk. It may be necessary to have you curtail or suspend usage of certain products before moving forward with a particular treatment.
Conducting a Preliminary Examination
With your basic patient file completed, the next step will be a full dental examination. This is to determine the current state of your teeth, gums, and mouth. Think of it as establishing the starting point for all future dental care.
In most cases, the exam will not take that long. The team at the general dental practice will pay close attention to the condition of the teeth, the current status of your tooth enamel, and even if there are any teeth with signs of decay. Expect them to also be on the lookout for signs that one or more teeth are loose or showing signs of excessive wear.
Remember that a trained dental professional will know how to look for issues that may have escaped your notice. This is important because identifying problems in the early stages increases the chances for correcting them and keeping the teeth healthy.
Even if everything seems to be in order, expect the dental team at the general dental practice to order a set of X-rays. This makes it possible to get a better look at the condition of the teeth roots. They will also make it easier to spot any gum inflammation that may be present but not yet causing any signs of swelling or tenderness. Assuming that the X-rays indicate the roots and the gum tissue are healthy, there will be no need to take further action.
Suggesting a Teeth Cleaning
Since it’s been a few years since the last dental visit, there’s a good chance you will need a thorough teeth cleaning. Even with diligent brushing and flossing, there’s still reside trapped between the teeth. You may even have a little buildup on molars and other areas toward the back of the mouth.
The teeth cleaning accomplishes more than remove the buildup and reduce the risk of deterioration. It also provides an opportunity to determine if there is any issue the dental team overlooked during the preliminary examination. With the plaque and other residue out of the way, some minor problem may be easier to detect. By the time the cleaning is over, you will know if there is some sort of general dentistry procedure that needs to be scheduled for a future date, or if the focus is more on setting a date and time for your next routine checkup.
Question and Answer Time
Your first routine visit will include the opportunity to ask any questions you have about your teeth, possible courses of treatment, and even general basic hygiene. For example, is there a particular type of toothbrush design or bristles that would work better for you? Maybe you would like to know what sort of ingredients should be in the toothpaste you use each day.
The goal is to help you design a daily dental hygiene program that will keep your teeth looking their best and remove more residue in between cleanings. Remember that the team wants to provide the best general dentistry possible. That includes providing tips on how to keep your teeth as healthy as possible.
General Recommendations for Dental Hygiene and Care
Even if you don’t have any questions right now, the team at the general dental practice will provide recommendations designed to help you maintain your teeth and gums responsibly. There may be some samples of floss and toothpaste you can try. The may even have a new toothbrush that’s just right for your teeth that you get to take home.
What About Subsequent Visits?
The ongoing dental appointments will be more streamlined versions of this initial visit. There will still be the general examination and possibly a fresh set of X-rays will be taken. If there are more signs of wear or if there is some decay spotted, the team will want to make future appointments for treatments. Expect an offer to set a date for your next cleaning.
Your teeth are intended to last a lifetime. With the right care, it’s possible to enjoy excellent dental health for decades. Don’t be discouraged if you’ve been less than diligent with dental visits the last few years. As any professional with a general dental practice will tell you, starting right now and making the most of what modern general dentistry will make a difference.