What to Expect From a New Patient Dental Exam
Most people will have the experience of a first appointment with a new dentist. For various reasons – moving to a new place, changes in health coverage, referrals to specialists – it is common to find yourself a new patient in a dental practice. Here’s what to expect from a new patient dental exam.
You can make the first visit a successful one.
Medical history. Dental practices have a medical history form for new patients to complete before the appointment. It may be on the website as a PDF file that you can download or available by request. Be sure to provide the most recent information about your health and medications. Many diseases and the drugs used to treat them can affect your teeth and gums, and determine the types of anesthesia used during dental procedures.
Dental records and x-rays. Your previous history with dental treatment will greatly assist your new dentist and staff in determining your current level of treatment. If possible, make arrangements for these documents to be transferred to the new practice.
Your dentist needs to know everything that may help him or her diagnose problems or treat you appropriately.
- Symptions. Do you have any pain or sensitivity in your mouth, gums or teeth? Don’t wait to see if the dentist notices – he or she will appreciate your attention to your own oral health.
- Gag reflex. If you have a very sensitive gag reflex, you probably have had difficulty with dental treatments. If the dentist or hygienist is aware of this, they will be able to avoid certain sensitive areas.
- Fear or discomfort. Some patients, particularly older individuals, have a history of painful experiences with dentistry. Fortunately, new and improved techniques and materials available today make the dental experience far more pleasant and comfortable. Chances are that talking about your concerns will help you relax.
How long has it been since your last checkup and why does it matter?
Dentists use the dental exam and x-rays to carefully monitor each patient’s oral health. If you have not had a dental exam within the past 2 years, your new dentist will want to perform a comprehensive oral evaluation which includes a thorough look at your entire mouth, head and neck area. The dentist also will review your medical history and x-rays. This appointment with the dentist usually takes one hour. Depending on the results of that exam, a follow-up treatment plan and/or teeth cleaning will be scheduled.
NOTE: Good news! Your last dental visit was recent and you have x-rays. If your teeth are in good condition you may only need a teeth cleaning with the hygienist.
Remember, beautiful teeth are healthy teeth!
Dr. Nishan Halim
Nishan Halim, DMD specializes in adult and pediatric restorative and cosmetic dentistry, as well as preventive dentistry in his Capitol Hill, Washington DC neighborhood dental center. He takes extra time with new patients to remove the stress and anxiety from the dental experience. You can schedule your introductory first appointment with him online.