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

What to Expect When You Haven’t Been to the Dentist in Years
Posted on 12/13/2018

Has it been awhile since you last visited the dentist? We’ve met many people just like you! Often, these individuals want to get their dental health back on track, but feel afraid, anxious, or ashamed of how much time they’ve let lapse. These fears can easily overpower your desire to take control of your health, leading to even more years passing by without visiting the dentist.

We’ve found that knowing what to expect during this first visit back can help alleviate some of the worries you may have. It can also provide the extra courage to pick up the phone and make an appointment

At Towson Smile Care, we’ll provide you with kind, gentle, and judgement-free care. Keep reading to learn exactly what you can expect at our office when it’s your first dentist appointment in a very long time.

Allow about an hour for your appointment

Your entire appointment will be focused on getting to know you, your mouth, and your dental health goals. Rushing through this process can cause stress for you and we don’t want that! So expect to spend about an hour with us.

When you first walk through our doors, you’ll be greeted by our friendly staff. If you’ve seen us before, our front desk team will confirm the information we have on file is still correct. If this is your first time to our office, we’ll walk you through our new patient forms. 

Some information that you will need to complete these forms include:

• Dental insurance (if applicable)
• Health history (such as any known allergies, medications you’re taking, and health concerns)
• Your contact details and emergency contact information

It’s time to take high-tech dental x-rays

Once your paperwork is caught up, a team member will walk you back to take a digital x-ray of your mouth. These x-rays help reveal tooth decay, jaw bone issues, and other dental health concerns.

Though some people may find this process a little awkward, it’s quite fast and not at all painful. We’ll do all we can to make sure you feel at ease throughout.

Here’s how it works:

• You’ll sit upright in a chair — feel free to scoot back and get comfortable! 
• Your dental technician will place a lead apron over your chest — while this apron feels a little heavy, we find many people find it comforting! 
• We’ll gently situate an x-ray sensor in your mouth — the technician will walk you through how to bite down and hold it properly. We’ll take our time to make sure it’s not causing you any discomfort or gag reflexes.
• Once the sensor is in place, the technician will turn on the machine and take the x-ray image — this takes a couple seconds
• The technician will review the images as they are taken and we’ll move the senor a few times in your mouth to make sure we get a good look at your entire mouth.

It’s a fast process and when we review the x-rays with you later, you’ll get a really interesting look at what’s going on under the surface of your mouth! 

We’ll conduct a comprehensive mouth examination

Once your x-rays are completed, we’ll get you set up for your examination. Hang up your coat, bag, or purse and sit back in our cozy patient chair. Your dentist will come in and you’ll spend a few minutes talking about what brought you into our office before taking a peek in your mouth.

Our exams involve taking a comprehensive look at your teeth, gums, and jaw and discussing your x-ray findings. Your dentist will review your bite and evaluate your risk of gum disease and tooth decay. We’ll also check your tongue and gums for early signs of oral cancer.

During this exam, your patient chair will be reclined and a light situated above your head so the dentist can get a good look in your mouth. We’ll provide you with some “sunglasses” to make sure the light isn’t bothering you, or you’re welcome to close your eyes and relax

Your dentist will use a few dental instruments to gently check your gums and the health of your teeth. You may hear your dentist discussing his findings as your dental hygienist and dental assistant take notes, and we’ll explain everything to you along the way as well. We’ll even give you a demonstration of how to properly brush and floss, if you’d like.

You’ll have many opportunity to ask questions

Our goal is to make sure you understand everything that’s going on during your appointment and feel comfortable asking questions along the way. We’ll give unhurried time with your dentist to ask questions, express concerns, and discuss your treatment options.

Some questions we often hear include:

• How can I prevent cavities and gum disease?
• Can you demonstrate proper brushing and flossing techniques?
• Is an electric toothbrush is right for me?
• How is my dental health related to headaches or poor sleep?
• What cosmetic treatments will improve the appearance of my smile?
• What are my options for replacing missing teeth?
• What are the differences between crowns, bridges, implants, and veneers?
• I’m experiencing [dental problem/pain] — what does this mean?

We’ll outline our dental cleaning recommendation & care plan

For new patients, we typically schedule exams and cleanings as two separate visits. This allows us to conduct a thorough review of your health before determining the type of cleaning to best fit your needs. 

So after your exam, your dentist will provide the recommended path forward. We’ll outline what type of cleaning we suggest and why. Plus, we’ll discuss any other follow up appointments and treatments that may be necessary based on what we noticed during your exam. This may include:

• Fillings
• Crowns or root canals
• Dental implants
• Custom-made mouthguard
• Gum disease treatments

When you do come in for your cleaning, you can expect the process to be focused on your needs. We’ll take our time to ensure your complete comfort. Since it’s been awhile since your last cleaning, your gums may bleed — this is normal. With proper brushing and flossing, your next cleaning should have less bleeding. After your visit, you may also notice your gums feel a little tender for a couple hours. Most patients find a simple over-the-counter pain medication is enough to calm any discomfort.

You’ll end your appointment by talking with our patient coordinator

Before you leave, our patient coordinator and front desk staff will work with you to schedule your cleaning and any follow up appointments. We’ll also cover the cost of these treatments and financing options.

You’ll leave our office feeling good about the the care you received and confident in the future of your dental health.

Schedule your judgement-free dentist appointment today

At Towson Smile Care, we never judge our patients for past dental care decisions. We’re happy that you’re choosing to take control of your health today. Our goal is to help you feel comfortable in our office and provide a plan that helps you achieve the healthy, beautiful smile you deserve.

If you have any questions about what it’s like to be a patient of Towson Smile Care, please don’t hesitate to reach out at (410) 296-7599. We look forward to hearing from you and helping you get your dental health back on track!

Dr. H. Brett Friedman
Dr. Friedman earned his Doctorate of Dental Surgery from the University of Maryland, Baltimore College of Dental Surgery in 1996. For over 20 years, Dr. Friedman has been creating the smiles of his patients’ dreams. He believes that nothing should stand between you and a healthier smile.