Wondering what to expect during your first dental visit? It’s as simple as 1, 2, 3! And for most patients, the process is completely pain free!
X-rays allow the dentist to see pictures of your teeth, bones, and surrounding tissues. There are several types of x-rays that may be taken, but new patients are generally given a full series of x-rays to capture every single tooth from all angles.
The x-rays will reveal problems that may not be visible during the exam, such as:
- Impacted teeth
- Problems below the gum line
Dental x-rays are very safe and only expose patients to an extremely low level of radiation. There are generally no significant health risks involved.
During subsequent visits, simple bitewing x-rays will be taken to help the dentist better identify developing cavities before they progress. Children will generally require x-rays more often than adults due to their susceptibility to tooth decay.
- Cleaning (Prophylaxis)
While brushing and flossing help minimize problems, at home care can’t prevent all buildup of plaque and tartar. Only a trip to the dentist can remove the buildup on your teeth to help prevent tooth decay.
A tool called a dental scaler is used to gently scrap tartar from the surfaces of your teeth and in the pockets below your gum line. The good news is that cleanings are completely painless for most patients! You may feel a vibration, a tickling sensation, or some pressure on the tooth’s surface, but these sensations are short-lived and generally not painful at all.
Regular cleanings are very important to:
- Remove tartar and plaque buildup on the teeth and below the gum line
- Improve tooth yellowing and help remove stains
- Freshen your breath by removing bacteria
- Reduce the chances of infection, tooth decay, and gum disease
If you experience any discomfort at all during your cleaning, ask your hygienist about options to make the procedure more pleasant. He or she can place a numbing gel on your gums if they are sensitive, or can give you some laughing gas to help you relax.
Once tartar has been removed and the teeth are clean, the hygienist will use a small, rotating brush to gently polish the teeth and smooth the enamel. Polishing helps make it harder for plaque to accumulate in between cleanings, and leaves your teeth feeling fresh and clean!
- Oral Exam
The final part of your visit is the oral exam. The dentist will look at your x-rays and examine each tooth in your mouth. He or she will also look closely at your gums and soft tissues.
The exam helps the dentist identify problems like:
- Tooth decay
- Cracks in the teeth
- Periodontal disease
- Oral cancer
- Other tooth and jaw problems
Your dentist will also look at any existing dental work to make sure it is still functioning properly. Occasionally old dental work simply wears out and will require a replacement.
After the exam is complete, your dentist will advise you on any treatments that may be needed to return your mouth to optimum health. If nothing is needed at this time, simply come back in six months for your next check-up!
Written by: Dr. Yahya Mansour