Your First Dental Visit
What to expect at your first dental visit
Before scheduling your first dental visit, it is important you find a dentist office that you feel comfortable with. You will feel more at ease at your first appointment if you are somewhere that feels like the right fit for you. Inform the dentist of any health changes or concerns you may have. Certain medical conditions and medications can affect your dental health. It is important to fill out a complete health history prior to the appointment.
Most visits are routine checkups which range every three to six months. These visits help keep the teeth clean, which help the teeth last for a longer period of time. These appointments can also help prevent painful problems from occurring, or help catch certain problems sooner, before they result in something more serious. New patient appointments can take anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes. This gives the dentist time to assess current dental health, discuss any concerns, and determine future needs.
Most new patient appointments include the following:
- Comprehensive Exam:
- At your first dental visit the dentist will do a full examination to check for any signs of disease or other problems with the teeth or gums.
- The doctor will explain any of these findings and put together a treatment plan designed to improve your oral health.
- The goal of the dentist is to maintain good oral health and prevent future problems.
- Radiographs (X-rays):
- X-rays are taken at your first dental visit in order to diagnose problems that can go unnoticed and cannot be seen clinically. Examples of these problems include damage to the bones, abscesses, and cavities located between the teeth.
- Bitewing radiographs are typically taken once a year and show cavities between the teeth, bone loss, and infections.
- Another type of X-ray that is required at your first dental visit is a Panoramic X-ray or “Pan”. A Panoramic X-ray gives a broad overview of the entire mouth. It gives a complete view of your upper and lower jaw in a single picture. The dentist is able to see impacted and/or un-erupted teeth, abscesses at root tips, bone abnormalities, and more.
- Offices now use digital X-ray machines which emit very little radiation. In fact, digital X-rays have reduced the amount of radiation emitted up to 90%. This means you would receive less radiation than a day spent in the sun or a weekend at home watching TV.
- A thorough cleaning:
- The dental hygienist, who is the person who will perform the cleanings, will evaluate your current dental status by measuring the pocket depths of the gums to check for gum disease.
- The hygienist uses special instruments that remove plaque and tarter that can build up above and below the gum line.
- This build up causes problems such as gum disease, cavities, and bad breath.
- The dental hygienist will also polish and floss the teeth and go over homecare instructions. You will receive additional products or aids to use at home for extra assistance.
How long should you go in between dental visits?
- The dentist and dental hygienist will discuss with you the current status of your dental health after doing the thorough exam and cleaning. If the teeth and gums are healthy, you will come every 3 to 6 months for checkups.
- If further treatment is required, such as fillings, crowns, or removal of any teeth, you will make an appointment to have the treatment completed before you leave the office that day.
- Be sure to ask any questions you may have before leaving. The dentist and dental hygienist work together to provide an individualized plan for you. Discuss any questions or concerns you may have so that everyone is on the same page.
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