What to Expect at a Routine Dentist Appointment
Whether it’s been a few months since your last routine dental appointment or it’s been a few years, it’s understandable to want to know all you can before you head in for your next exam. Staying informed is a great way to alleviate any dental anxiety. Regardless of the circumstances, here’s what you should expect before walking into the dentist’s office for a regular exam and dental cleaning.
The Dental Cleaning
In between dental visits, you may experience a slight build-up of tartar (more than “slight” if you’re less diligent about your oral hygiene). During a regular dental cleaning, your dentist or hygienist will use a pick-like device to scrape off tartar above and below the gumline. This will help prevent gum disease, cavities, halitosis (bad breath), and other problems. Following this, they may polish your teeth with a light abrasive and floss them. In some cases, you may also need a fluoride treatment, after which you cannot eat or drink for 30-60 minutes. With the smoother surface caused by this cleaning and with proper oral hygiene practices in between visits, plaque and tartar will have a harder time forming on your teeth.
The Dental Exam
During the dental exam, your dentist will check for any cavities or other signs of decay using an angled mirror and a metal probe. Your dentist will also check for any signs of gum disease, including gum redness or swelling. He or she will also use a small metal measuring tool to determine the depth of the pockets around your gums; any deeper than three millimeters indicates gum disease, or at least the risk of it. Other things your dentist will look for during the exam include:
- How your teeth fit together (to find additional signs of gum disease or teeth grinding).
- How your temporomandibular joint (the joint that connects your jaw to your skull) functions.
- How the soft tissues (tongue, gums, and cheeks) of the mouth look.
- How well you are taking care of your teeth.
- Your need for any restorative procedures (like fillings or braces).
It is also likely that your dentist will ask to check for oral cancer, as early detection could potentially increase chances of survivability. A number of methods may be used to screen for oral cancer, including special light devices used to detect abnormalities in the tissue or fluorescent mouthwashes that “stick” to abnormalities. Finally, your dentist may take dental x-rays to find damage or decay between teeth or below the gumline. Bitewing x-rays and panoramic x-rays are the most common types of x-rays you’ll get at a dental visit. Bitewing x-rays allow dentists to see the crowns of the upper and lower teeth, while panoramic x-rays show both upper and lower jaws all on one film.
Schedule Your Dental Appointment Today!
Now that you know what to expect at your next dental appointment, it’s time to schedule a dental exam and cleaning. At Lifetime Dental, we will make you feel right at home. Find one of our convenient Pennsylvania locations near you or contact us online to schedule an appointment today!