What to Expect at Your Next Checkup
Routine dental visits are important for both oral health and overall well-being. Regular dental cleanings and comprehensive exams not only keep your smile sparkling, they allow your dentist to detect and treat budding health issues early.
For some people, it has been years since their last dentist visit, or they may have dental anxiety preventing them from seeing the dentist. Knowing what to expect can ease the fear and help you prepare for your next comprehensive exam.
Gather Necessary Information Beforehand
It is important for your dentist to know your family medical history. Having this information will allow dental professionals to provide better care for both your oral and overall health.
Common medical conditions like heart disease, some forms of cancer and periodontal disease all have a genetic link. If your dentist is educated in your family history, it will be clear which health concerns are more likely to arise. Some chronic diseases that spread through families, like diabetes, present symptoms in the oral cavity.
Besides gathering all relevant family and personal medical information, be aware of your dental insurance coverage prior to scheduling your appointment. Understand your benefits level and which treatments and procedures are covered under your plan. Contact us to ask any insurance questions or to discuss alternate payment options.
What Happens During Your Appointment?
Individual needs vary from patient to patient, but a typical comprehensive exam consists of a dental cleaning, a thorough check-up, and scheduled dental x-rays.
- Dental X-Rays: How often dental x-rays are taken depends on your oral health, age, and medical history. A new patient comprehensive exam generally includes dental x-rays. Oral imaging allows us to detect hidden decay between teeth and other hard to reach areas. X-rays also help diagnose underlying orthodontic and dental problems.
- Dental Cleaning: During professional teeth cleaning either a hygienist or dentist use a scaler to gently remove tartar from all surfaces; between teeth, above and below the gum line. After the gentle scraping is complete, your teeth are polished with a mildly abrasive paste and floss.
- Comprehensive Exam: Once your teeth are clean and shiny, a comprehensive exam is performed to monitor your dental health. Your dentist will do the following:
- Check your teeth for signs of decay and cavities.
- Examine your gums for redness and swelling, and measure the pocket depths for signs of gum disease.
- Look for signs of teeth clenching or grinding, orthodontic issues and examine your bite.
- Examine your lymph glands, neck, and mouth for signs of oral cancer.
Based on the outcome of your comprehensive exam, you may receive treatment suggestions or helpful oral health tips on how to improve your dental hygiene before your next visit.
What Should You Do After Your Appointment?
Always maintain good oral hygiene practices and follow through with any suggestions or instructions provided during your routine check-up.