What to Expect When You Haven’t Been to the Dentist in a While

Looking after your oral health is one of the most basic ways to take care of yourself. For the most part, you likely already know that you should brush your teeth twice a day and floss between meals. 

That said, a surprising number of people forget that they have to visit their dentist at least twice a year. Indeed, nothing strikes fear into the hearts of many quite like the idea of stepping into the office of their dental practitioner.

For many others, not going to the dentist is a financial decision. Indeed, dental care can be quite costly, especially if it’s not covered by one’s insurance plan. In some cases, people avoid their dentist because they feel dread and shame about not doing so earlier. More often than not, they are afraid of getting nagged about the state of their teeth.

Do any of these reasons resonate with you? Take heart, as you’re not alone. The fact that you’re reading this article clearly shows that you want to get your dental health back on track, which is a promising start. Most dentists in CNMI will be sympathetic to your plight, so try not to worry about being judged by them. To alleviate your concerns further, we’ve compiled this guide on what you can expect when you visit your dentist for the first time in a while. Read on below:

Before Your Appointment

If you haven’t been to the dentist in a long time, expect your visit to take a while. Even if you’re seeing a practitioner who already has your records and history, they’ll likely want to do a full check-up to determine if anything has changed since you last saw them.

Hence, it’s important to set aside an adequate amount of time for the appointment. Most dentists recommend giving them at least an hour for the necessary procedures. However, you can do yourself a favor by arriving at least half an hour earlier than your schedule so that you can leisurely fill out any paperwork. You’ll want to have your dental insurance particulars handy, as well as any additional information about your health history and your emergency contact’s details.

After turning your forms in, you can relax in the waiting room until the dental technician is ready for you. You can also take this time to settle in if you need to.

During Your Appointment

If you are a new patient or have let a couple of years pass between this appointment and the last, your visit to the dentist will likely begin with an X-ray of your mouth. This quick and painless procedure will be performed by the dental technician on duty and shouldn’t take more than a few minutes. If you have questions, feel free to ask the staff at any point during your visit.

After that, the dentist will come in to check the X-rays and have a chat with you about what brought you into the office. This is when you should voice your major concerns and let them know about any issues you may be experiencing. It’s okay if you don’t know what the exact terms are; just cluing them in on what you’re feeling will be immensely helpful.

Next, the dentist will recline the patient’s chair to have a look at your mouth, thoroughly examining your teeth, gums, and jaw. They’ll also review your bite and look for signs of tooth decay and gum disease. Again, this should be a completely painless experience, but if you feel any discomfort, you should let them know immediately.

Some dentists’ offices schedule exams and cleanings as two separate appointments. If yours goes about this way, your dentist will give you their recommendations and schedule your next visit once your initial assessment is complete. Other dental clinics combine the exam and a preliminary cleaning session into one visit. If this is the case, then your dentist will hand you over to the private dental hygienist after the exam. You can expect this to be rather time-consuming as the process requires working on one tooth at a time. If your jaw hurts or you experience any pain during the procedure, don’t hesitate to say so. Your gums may also bleed a bit, but this is normal and shouldn’t be any cause for alarm.

After Your Appointment

Once the cleaning is finished and you’ve rinsed your mouth out for the last time, there’s little left to do. The patient chair will be lifted back to its upright position, your apron will be removed, and you can gather your things and leave. A patient coordinator or someone from the front desk may want to talk to you about your next visit, as well as any follow-up appointments that your dentist has scheduled. 

And you’re done! That doesn’t sound too hard, does it? The most important thing to remember is that everyone at the dentist’s office genuinely wants to help you. They’ll want you to be comfortable, and will do everything they can to make your appointments as easy as possible. Communicate openly with them, don’t be afraid, and congratulate yourself on taking an important step towards bettering your oral health.