Too many adults put off or completely avoid them, so Bertagnolli Dental is here to share exactly what to expect during a dental checkup. Hopefully, this in-depth explanation will address any fears you may have about going to the dentist. Remember that your dentist will be open to talking about any concerns you may have, and can develop a strategy for keeping your teeth healthy without added stress.
Your first point of contact at the dental practice is the reception front desk. While your dentist handles the clinical work, they will usually leave the paperwork and scheduling tasks to the reception staff. If you visit the same dental practice regularly, they should have a record of your previous appointments. Even if you are not keeping track of how often you visit, the staff probably has these details and can help you schedule appointments according to your dentist’s recommendations.
The front desk team will also coordinate the payment method and communicate with your insurance company if necessary. You can ask the receptionist what payment plans are available and what your insurance covers if you are unsure. You may be directed to wait in the reception area for a few minutes. The receptionist or a dental professional will lead you to the right room once they are ready to begin.
When you enter the dental surgery or the dental practice room, you will probably be invited to sit in the examination chair and have a brief chat. It is usually the dental hygienist or Certified Dental Assistant who will talk to you initially. These are the dental professionals that take care of the majority of routine dental care and teeth cleaning. If it is your first visit to the practice, they will ask you about your medical and dental history. If you are a return client, they will ask for you to update them on any changes, new medications, surgeries or symptoms that have appeared since your last visit.
Once you have given all the requested information, the dental hygienist will clean your teeth. For this non-invasive procedure, you just need to sit back in the chair. They may ask you to put on some goggles or glasses to protect your eyes from the intense light they shine into your mouth. The hygienist will use some tools to scrape off any buildup of plaque on the surface of your teeth. It is completely normal and necessary for them to work where your teeth meet the gum line, as plaque or tartar can build up and be especially problematic in this area.
They may also use dental floss or a flossing tool to work between your teeth, to ensure there is no food particles or plaque trapped in these areas. Thoroughly cleaning your teeth is an important part of a routine dentist visit. Your hygienist can remove plaque from areas that you may find difficult to access or see. This helps prevent decay and is also important to do before the dentist examines your teeth, as he will have a clearer view of each tooth’s surface and will be better able to identify problems.
The cleaning will finish with a tooth polish. The hygienist will use a small tool with a spinning head and a mildly abrasive paste to polish the surfaces of your teeth. This will leave your teeth with a smooth and uniform finish. This will make them appear sparkling and new, as well as make it more difficult for plaque to adhere to the surface.
This next step can be carried out by your hygienist or dentist. They will ask you to open your mouth wide and allow them to examine each tooth. A small mirror and a dental probe can help them see from every angle and check for softening or eroded tooth enamel. Don’t be surprised if you feel them gently tap each of your teeth with the probe. They will examine any previous fillings or implants to make sure they are still solidly fixed in place and serving their purpose.
At this moment, they will also be checking for signs of gum inflammation, mouth sores or superficial damage to your teeth. They will measure the depth of periodontal pockets in your mouth. This ‘pocket’ is the space between your gum line and where the gum firmly attaches to the tooth. In healthy gums, this space should measure no more than 3 millimeters. Deeper pockets can allow bacteria to grow and are a sign of gum disease.
If your dental professional wants to take routine X-rays, they will ask you to bite down on a piece of plastic and keep still for a few seconds. Depending on the size and positioning of the X-ray machine, they may also cover your neck with a lead collar to shield your thyroid from radiation. X-ray images allow your dentist to clearly see the structure of your teeth, their roots, and the jaw bone. This is a helpful tool in identifying decay and other issues with your teeth that are not visible on the surface.
Final Dental Exam
The final exam is carried out by your dentist and is a check of your overall oral health. They will palpate, or feel your jaw bones from the outside and ask you to open your mouth and bite down. This allows them to check that your bite is aligned correctly and your bones are not suffering from osteoporosis. They may also feel around your neck and jaw for signs of oral cancer.
With the information gathered from the tooth exam, X-rays, and the final dental exam, your dentist can analyze your oral health completely and make recommendations for any necessary treatment. At the end of your visit, the dentist will tell you about any issues they encountered, and if there are any steps, you can take at home, to improve your oral health.
If they recommend a dental procedure or surgery, such as placing a crown or a root canal, they will ask you to schedule another appointment for this with the receptionist on your way out.
At Bertagnolli Dental, we feel that once you know what to expect during a dental check-up, the whole procedure will be a lot less stressful. As we have explained above, a standard check-up will consist of non-invasive cleaning and examination of your teeth. Any further treatment or procedures are completely up to you. Having your teeth examined regularly can help you combat any dental issues before they become complex, painful and costly to treat.