What happens during a dental visit?
First, it is important to find a dentist with whom you feel comfortable. Once you have found a dentist you like, your next step is to schedule a check-up before any problems arise.
On your first visit to a dentist, they will take a full health history. On subsequent visits, if your health status has changed, make sure to tell them.
Most dental visits are check-ups. Regular check-ups, ideally every six months, will help your teeth stay cleaner, last longer and can prevent painful problems from developing.
A full examination
Your dentist will perform a thorough examination of your teeth, gums and mouth, looking for signs of disease or other problems. His or her goal is to help maintain your good oral health and to prevent problems from becoming serious, by identifying and treating them as soon as possible.
A thorough cleaning
Check-ups almost always include a complete cleaning, either from your dentist or a dental hygienist. Using special instruments, a dental hygienist will remove plaque and tartar that has built up around your teeth to help prevent gum disease, cavities, bad breath and other problems. Your dental professional may also polish and floss your teeth.
Depending on your age, risks of disease and symptoms, your dentist may recommend X-rays. X-rays can diagnose problems otherwise unnoticed, such as damage to jawbones, impacted teeth, abscesses, cysts or tumors, and decay between the teeth. A modern dental office uses machines that emit virtually no radiation, no more than you would receive from a day in the sun or a weekend watching TV. As a precaution, you should always wear a lead apron when having an X-ray. If you are pregnant, inform your dentist as X-rays should only be taken in emergency situations.
Your dentist may ask for a panoramic X-ray. This type of film provides a complete view of your upper and lower jaw in a single picture, helping the dentist detect abnormalities in your teeth and bones.
How long should I go between visits?
If your teeth and gums are in good shape, you probably would not need to return for six months. If further treatment is required like filling a cavity, removing a wisdom tooth or repairing a broken crown, you should make an appointment before leaving the office. Do not forget to ask your dentist any questions you may have as this is your chance to get the answers you need.