Meeting with a dentist for the first time can be a daunting experience. Up to 15 percent of Americans avoid seeing the dentist because of fear and anxiety, and visiting a new dental practice could increase the stress. Knowing what to expect at a new dentist appointment can alleviate any fears you have. Here are five things that will happen.
1. The Dentist's Receptionist Will Take Your Details
Typically, at your first appointment, you'll meet the dentist's receptionist, who will register you as a new patient. You might be required to fill in a short questionnaire about your oral health, for example, or asked to provide a contact phone number or email address. The dentist's receptionist should make you feel welcome and answer any questions you have about treatment or payment.
2. Your Dentist Will Evaluate Your Oral Health
At your first appointment, your new dentist will likely evaluate your oral health. This is a simple, painless procedure that shouldn't take longer than five minutes. Your dentist will carry out an inspection of your mouth, gums and teeth, and might ask you if you have experienced any problems with your oral health recently. This initial appointment is particularly important if you haven't seen a dentist in awhile.
3. Your Dentist Will Count Your Teeth and Fillings
During your first visit, your dentist will count your teeth and any fillings that you might have, and use a dental instrument to measure the space between your gums and teeth. Usually, the dentist's assistant will write everything down — a process called dental charting. This chart will form part of your dental records, and your dentist will refer to this information when you visit again in the future.
A good dentist will ensure you are sitting comfortably in the chair during this process, check your bite and jaw for any problems, and provide you with tips on how to better care for your teeth.
4. Your Dentist Might Take X-Rays
Your new dentist might want to take x-rays of your teeth. These are used to check for oral health problems that might not have been detected during your initial consultation. Dentists use x-rays to monitor gum disease, oral infections, cavities and even some types of oral tumors, making them a crucial component of your dental care program. X-rays don't usually hurt and can take as little as a few minutes to complete.
5. The Dentist's Receptionist Will Schedule a Follow-Up Appointment
After your initial dental exam, the dentist's receptionist will schedule a follow-up appointment. It is important you see your dentist regularly. Research shows that frequent dental visits — the American Dental Association recommend you go to the dentist once every six months — prevent gum disease, cavities, oral cancer and tooth decay. If you require dental treatment — such as gum surgery, an oral cancer examination or a filling — after your first appointment, the dentist's receptionist will tell you what you need to do next.
Your first dental visit won't take up too much of your time and is nothing to worry about. During this initial meeting, your dentist will check your mouth, teeth and gums to evaluate your oral health, and the dentist's receptionist will take your details and register you as a new patient.