What to Expect at Your First Dental Appointment

First Dental Appointment

Ready for your visit to the dentist? Whether it’s your first time visiting a new dentist, or you just haven’t been in a while, here’s what you can expect from your first dentist appointment.

Prepare For Your First Dental Appointment

X-rays

Unless another dentist office has shared your dental records, your first dental appointment will almost certainly include new X-rays. Bitewing X-rays are taken and used to detect tooth decay (cavities), gum disease, bone loss, and infection, while panoramic X-rays (sometimes referred to as “pan”) are used to check for impacted teeth, bone abnormalities, tumors, and more.

For your protection, you’ll be fitted with a lead or lead-free apron to reduce radiation exposure. Some dental offices (like The Happy Tooth in North Carolina) use more advanced digital X-rays, which reduce radiation up to 90 percent.

Exam

If this is your first dental appointment in a while, or you’re seeing a new dentist, chances are your visit will involve a comprehensive dental exam. During the exam, your dentist will inspect your teeth and mouth for any potential problems, including signs of tooth decay, gingivitis, and periodontal disease (commonly known as gum disease). He or she will also talk with you about any problems you’ve been experiencing, such as toothaches, sensitivity, or cosmetic concerns.

Following the dental exam, your dentist will put together an individual treatment plan designed to improve your oral health.

Cleaning

Following your dental exam, you may also have a dental cleaning (known as dental prophylaxis). Typically scheduled every six months, cleanings are important for achieving and maintaining optimal oral health. During the cleaning, a licensed dental hygienist will remove, or, “scale,” accumulated dental plaque from the outside of your teeth using special instruments. He or she will also polish your teeth with a special polishing paste, typically flavored for a “minty fresh” clean.

Other Dental Procedures

Based on your treatment plan and the office’s schedule, your first visit to the dentist may also involve other common dental procedures, such as tooth fillings or cosmetic treatments like teeth whitening. Check out our recent blog post for a complete guide to common dental procedures.

Payment and Scheduling

Following your appointment, you’ll meet with the administrative staff regarding payment and scheduling of your regular cleanings and any necessary procedures outlined in your treatment plan. If you have dental insurance, the dental staff will work with you and your insurer to determine whether your visit is partially or fully covered. Some practices, like The Happy Tooth, also offer a discount for treatment paid in full.

Looking for a new family dentist in North Carolina? The Happy Tooth is a family-owned network of general dentists in Cary, Chapel Hill, and Mount Airy. Schedule an appointment today and save with our Healthier Smile Package — exclusively for new patients!

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