When you are a new patient at a dentist’s office, the first step is usually to schedule an initial consultation. A consultation is basically an evaluation of the current condition of your teeth. If you haven’t seen a dentist in a while, you may be worried or embarrassed about the current state of your teeth.
A good dentist won’t be judgmental or make you feel bad about your current dental health. He or she simply wants to help restore your teeth to the best possible condition, improving your health and well-being. But if you’re still feeling a little uncomfortable about that first appointment, it may help to know what to expect. Here’s what happens during a typical new patient dental consultation.
Anytime you visit a new office, you’ll be required to fill out some paperwork. They’ll want to know basic things like your name and address, as well as your health and dental history. Be sure to bring your insurance card with you if you have dental insurance. If you are transferring from a previous dentist’s office, call and request that your records be sent to the new office.
Next, you’ll be called back to an examination room for a dental exam. A dental hygienist often performs the basic examination, making notes for the dentist. Your teeth, gums, mouth, and jaw bone will be evaluated, looking for things like cavities, enamel erosion, and receding gums. The dentist will then perform a more thorough examination, also making notes in your file (most likely on a computer or tablet).
It’s important for your dentist to establish a baseline of your current dental health in order to make decisions about further treatment. If you are in need of fillings, crowns, implants, or other dental procedures, your dentist may prioritize needed work based on urgency.
You can expect to have x-rays made of your teeth during that first visit. X-rays are another tool to gain information about your current dental health. The images show things that can’t be seen by the naked eye. For example, dark, shadowy areas in your teeth suggest cavities. The health of your jawbones can also be evaluated through x-ray images, which is a key factor when making decisions about the possibility of implants.
Conversation Between You and Your Dentist
Your dentist will want to know what you hope to gain through dental treatment. Are you looking for better oral health? Do you hope to improve your appearance through teeth straightening, whitening, or other cosmetic dentistry? Your dentist will want to know why you are seeking dental care, and it’s best for you to be as honest as possible so that you are both on the same page and working toward the same goals.
Making a Plan for Further Treatment
Taking into consideration the results of your examination and x-rays, as well as your dental goals, your dentist will formulate a treatment plan. This is an outline of the best course of action and the necessary steps to get the desired results. In some cases, the next steps may just be regular exams and cleanings. If you need more in-depth dental procedures, you may be scheduled for additional appointments.