VISITING YOUR DENTIST regularly (for most people it’s every six months) is an important part of maintaining your oral health. Not only does it keep your smile clean, but it can help you keep an eye on your overall health too!
For some, it may have been a while since your last visit or you or a loved one may be apprehensive about visiting the dentist. Knowing what to expect can help relieve much of this anxiety, so today we want to explain the basics of what happens during your typical bi-annual cleaning and how you can prepare for your next appointment!
Gather Necessary Information Beforehand
Discussing your family history may not be the first thing you think of when scheduling your dental appointment, but being familiar with your family’s medical history allows us to better care for your oral and overall health.
Like many other conditions such as heart disease and certain forms of cancer, periodontal disease has strong genetic ties that can run in your family. Knowing your family’s medical history can help your dentist keep an eye out for oral health issues such as gum disease or other conditions which present symptoms in the mouth, such as diabetes.
Aside from gathering any relevant personal or family medical information, be sure to to review your dental insurance benefits as you prepare for your appointment. Knowing your level of coverage will help you understand what costs will be associated with your care. If you have any questions about using your dental insurance for your regular dental checkups or for orthodontic treatment in our practice or if you would like information about paying for care without insurance, give us a call!
What Happens During Your Appointment?
Although this varies from patient to patient based on their individual needs, your first dental check-up with us is one of the most thorough check-ups you’ll likely ever experience. Given it’s our first time meeting, you can imagine it takes more time for us to get better acquainted–gathering data includes obtaining a thorough medical and dental history, your habits, home care routine, but also taking digital photos and xrays of your teeth, including evaluating your gums, bone, muscles, joints, your bite, soft tissues, etc. Based on your desires and complexity of your concerns, some patients require further discussion and investigation, in which another appointment may be need and more data may need to be collected (models, impressions, etc.). Typically however, Dr. Yu will be able to go over all of her findings with you and together find a treatment plan that suits your needs the best. Given enough time is remaining, Dr. Yu will not only give you her recommendation on what type of hygiene visit you’ll need (routine 6 month cleaning, deep cleanings, etc.) but often will be able to complete or at least start your hygiene/cleaning part of your visit. We put a lot of value on this initial visit–it is time and attention our patients are definitely not accustomed to expecting when coming to see the dentist. Our attention to detail has definitely become our signature and it’s represented in this visit.
How frequently you need dental X-rays relies largely on your medical and dental history, your age, and your current oral health. New-patient examinations often require X-rays and photographs as well.
If required, dental X-rays are generally taken at the beginning of your dental appointment. Dental X-rays allow us to detect and diagnose tooth decay between teeth, on hard-to-reach surfaces, and under existing dental work. X-rays can even be helpful in identifying dental and orthodontic issues that exist beneath the gum line.
Your dentist will perform a comprehensive oral examination to ensure your oral health is in tip-top shape. They will:
- examine your teeth for signs of decay
- check for gum swelling and redness, and measure the depth of your gingival pockets to check for signs of periodontal disease
- test how your top and bottom teeth come together and check for signs of teeth grinding or other potential orthodontic issues
- examine your neck, lymph glands, and oral cavity for signs of oral cancer
Based on your exam, they’ll discuss any necessary treatment recommendations and offer helpful tips on how to improve your oral hygiene before your next appointment.
Once it’s time for your cleaning, your dentist or hygienist uses a small metal instrument known as a scaler and/or an ultrasonic instrument to scrape off tartar above and below the gum line and in between teeth. Next, they polish your teeth using a polishing tool and a lightly abrasive paste to deep clean your pearly whites and remove any tartar left behind after the previous step. Last but not least, they’ll finish your cleaning with a thorough flossing.
Check out the video below for more information on the importance of regular dental exams!
What Should You Do After Your Appointment?
Whether your next regular dental appointment is in 6 months or even sooner, be sure to maintain a good oral hygiene routine and follow any additional instructions provided by your dentist. If you have any questions about what to expect from your next dental appointment or an orthodontic consultation in our office, let us know!
We love our patients!
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.