What Should I Expect as a New Dental Patient?
Finding a Dentist in Omaha, NE That You’ll Love
As the saying goes, prevention is the best medicine. This holds true for every aspect of your health; for your oral health, a major part of prevention is visiting the dentist every six months for a dental exam and preventive cleaning. Every once in a while, however, you may find that you need to change dentists.
No matter what reason you need to change dentists, starting out as a new dental patient can be nerve-wracking, especially if you haven’t been to the dentist in a while. Knowing what to expect can help curb some of this anxiety, so below we have shared what you can expect from your first appointment as a new dental patient at our office in West Omaha.
Come ready to fill out paperwork.
Did you know that oral health and your overall health are closely linked? What’s happening in your mouth can affect every system in your body and vice versa. So those pesky new dental patient forms are more important than you might think.
Dr. Matz and Dr. Ellingson need to know your medical history and what medicines you’re taking. Aside from the mouth-body connection, this is so they can ensure they won’t prescribe medication or use a type of anesthesia that will interact with your medication. Additionally, some chronic illnesses or medications can make you resistant to anesthesia or more susceptible to tooth decay and gum disease. Knowing this information helps your dentist give you better, more comprehensive care and helps you to be aware if you have elevated risk factors for tooth decay.
Make sure to bring your insurance card and a photo ID, such as your driver’s license, and arrive at least 15 minutes before your appointment time, so you’ll have time to fill out the paperwork thoroughly.
Plan to speak with your dentist.
When you first meet with your dentist, you’ll have the chance to speak with him. He may ask a few questions about your medical history to clarify a few details or get a little more information. If you have dental anxiety or a strong gag reflex, this is a great chance for you to speak to Dr. Matz or Dr. Ellingson about it. You and your dentist can discuss ways to minimize your anxiety or discomfort, such as using hand signals to communicate when you need a break. If you have any questions for your dentist, this is the best time to ask them. Try writing your most important questions down before your appointment so you don’t forget them.
If you’re experiencing symptoms like toothaches, jaw pain, or bleeding gums, it’s also wise to mention it right away. This helps your dentist know what he should pay extra attention to during your oral exam. He may ask you additional questions about your symptoms and treatment goals to get a better idea of what’s going on and what your ideal outcome is.
Expect a comprehensive evaluation.
During your first appointment at a dental office, you can expect a thorough oral evaluation to examine your current oral health. We will take digital photos and X-rays of your teeth, so we can more easily locate decay, damaged teeth, or leaking fillings early. When we catch issues early, we’re able to help you avoid larger, more expensive treatments down the road, and we’re able to preserve more of your natural teeth. Your dentist will also quickly check the health of your gums by measuring their pocket depth using a simple dental probe.
An oral cancer screening is a lesser known, but essential, aspect of a comprehensive evaluation; early detection is so integral to recovering from cancer that up to 90% of patients whose oral cancer is detected early can be cured. Dr. Matz or Dr. Ellingson will perform an oral cancer screening by looking or feeling for signs of cancer inside your mouth. This may sound like a lot of different tests, but most of these only need to be performed every few years. As a new dental patient, however, it’s important to get a baseline for your chart and to check on your current oral health, especially if you haven’t been to the dentist in a while.
Get a thorough cleaning.
You’ll also get a thorough preventive cleaning during your appointment, just like you will for all of your future dental appointments. During this cleaning, your dentist or dental hygienist will carefully floss your teeth, scrape built-up tartar from your teeth, and brush them with a mechanical brush to remove any remaining plaque and tartar. You simply can’t remove hardened tartar from your teeth at home, so a preventive cleaning like this at our office is essential for your oral health. Your dentist will also check for signs of cavities and gum disease, such as swollen or bleeding gums, during your cleaning.
Plan your next steps.
Suspecting that you have a cavity or another problem with your teeth can be one of the most nerve-wracking aspects of going to the dentist for the first time in a long time. After looking at your teeth, as well as your X-rays and digital photographs, Dr. Matz or Dr. Ellingson will speak with you about any issues he may have found and explain your treatment options to you.
Thankfully, our office has the tools and experience to deal with any issues that may be discovered during your oral exam. You won’t have to worry about being referred across town to yet another new dentist for treatment; Dr. Matz or Dr. Ellingson can treat you right in our office. This helps reduce anxiety since you know you’ll be treated by a dentist you already know and trust. If your dentist doesn’t find any issues that require additional treatments, you can simply make an appointment to see us again in six months.
While visiting a new dentist for the first time can be intimidating, especially if you haven’t been to the dentist in a long time, the payoff is certainly worth it. Dental appointments help to ensure that your teeth—and the rest of your body—remain healthy for years to come.