First Appointment FAQs
If you will be going to your first appointment at a new office, take a look at these frequently asked questions that will help you get a solid idea of what to expect at your first visit.
Should I get there early?
Yes! Arrive to your appointment about 15 minutes early so that you will have time to fill out patient forms for your first visit.
Can I be premedicated?
Yes, but make sure that you contact the dental office beforehand to confirm the details about being premedicated before anything is done during your visit.
What should I bring?
When you have your very first appointment with a new dental office, you will need to bring them some essential paperwork, including your dental or medical insurance card as well as information regarding your medical history.
How long does an appointment take?
For your first visit, set aside about an hour to 90 minutes of time.
Common Questions You Should Ask Your Dental Provider
Dental health is incredibly important to your overall health. The following are some essential questions you should be asking your hygienist, dentist or other dental provider in order to get a clear picture of the current state of your dental health.
How is my overall dental health?
Your dental treatment team will be able to talk with you about any problems or concerns they found during their examination or cleaning treatment.
How can I improve on my dental health?
If there are concerns with your health, then you need to be proactive and ask for suggestions on how to fix your dental health. Your dental team may make suggestions based on what they see from your examination or based on the answers to questions that they ask you. Your dentist will naturally want you to improve your dental health by avoiding foods and drinks which can harm your teeth and by discouraging you from behaviors such as tearing open plastic packaging with your teeth and smoking.
How do I floss correctly?
Most people are not flossing correctly, so asking your hygienist or dentist to help you with your flossing technique can greatly improve your oral health.
How do I brush correctly?
You need to know how to brush your teeth properly so that you are removing as much plaque as possible while also being gentle enough on your teeth and gums to avoid abrasion and injury. Your dental team will be able to help you learn how to brush the right way.
What toothpaste should I use?
There are a lot of different toothpastes out there, and it’s easy to become overwhelmed with all the selection available. Your dentist can talk with you about which toothpastes are more beneficial for your needs, based on your dental health.
What kind of toothbrush should I use?
Whether or not you use a manual or an electric toothbrush is up to your preference. Both manual and electric toothbrushes can be effective against tooth decay and gingivitis; what is most important is that you are using your toothbrush twice a day for about 2 minutes. Your dentist will be able to recommend some quality electric and manual tooth brush options.
What kind of mouthwash do I need to use?
Your dentist will be able to recommend a mouthwash to you based on the state of your oral health.
Can I improve my dental health with a good diet?
You can help reduce the risk of damaging your teeth with a good diet. You will want to avoid exposing your teeth to foods which are highly acidic or sugary—such as candies, fruit juices, coffee, and so on. At the same time, you will also want to incorporate healthy foods into your diet to improve your overall—and thus, your oral—health.
Why are dental exams important?
A regular dental exam is essential in maintaining good oral hygiene and preventing serious dental health problems from developing. Most people need an exam every 6 months, but your dentist may recommend more frequent visits based on your dental health.
Do I really need x-rays during my exam? Are they safe?
You may need x-rays if you have not seen the dentist in a while. Some dentists may want an x-ray every 6 months in order to keep an eye out for health problems, especially if you have gingivitis or have experienced any bone loss. Other dentists may only want x-rays every 2 years or so. Children will need more frequent x-rays than adults.
Does fluoride help my dental health?
Yes. Fluoride improves the strength of your teeth and helps prevent tooth decay. Children and adults—especially children—should be using a toothpaste with fluoride twice a day. Your hygienist may apply a fluoride treatment to your teeth after an examination, depending on the state of your dental health.
What happens when I need fillings?
If you have cavities, you will need to get fillings; fillings prevent your cavities from becoming bigger and are essential in reducing damages to your teeth.
When you need fillings, your dentist will first numb your mouth so that you won’t feel any pain. Then, they will drill around the cavity in your tooth before apply a special mixture call composite into the cavity. This is the “filling” that will then dry, harden and keep your tooth from further decay. You may experience some soreness after receiving fillings, but in most people this soreness goes away quickly.
What food should I avoid for better dental health?
You can greatly improve your dental hygiene and reduce the chances for further damage by adhering to a diet that is dental health friendly. You should avoid exposing your teeth to foods which are high in acidity, such as candy and soda pop; if you do want to consume these, make sure you eat them all in one sitting and if possible, use a straw so that the acidic and sugary drinks do not touch your teeth.
Are oral piercings dangerous?
Oral piercings do come with a range of potential problems that can impact your health. If you don’t have any piercings in your mouth yet, talk with your dentist to go over the safety hazards that it presents. If you already have piercings, keep an eye out for any signs of infection—including swelling, drooling, scarring, chipped teeth, increased flow of saliva, etc.—and book an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible.
What should I do if I get my tooth knocked out?
If you happen to get your tooth knocked out, then follow these basic steps that will increase your chances that the tooth can be replanted into your mouth.
- Rinse the tooth to remove any dirt or debris from falling onto it
- Place the now clean-tooth into your mouth in order to keep it safe and warm; or wrap it in gauze and place it in a cup of milk
- Call the dentist and book an emergency appointment
- Have the dentist attempt an emergency re-implantation
How do I get rid of morning breath?
Morning breath is caused by dryness in your mouth which typically occurs because your saliva production reduces while you sleep; saliva keeps bacteria at bay, acting in some ways as a “natural mouthwash” in your mouth. When your mouth gets dry, bacteria begins to break down food particles in your mouth, which produces sulfur compounds; these compounds subsequently give you bad breath. You may be able to reduce morning breath by ensuring that you breathe through your nose while you sleep. If you have persistent morning breath that won’t go away, consult with your dentist as this could be a sign of a condition.
What should I do if I have sensitive teeth?
If you have sensitive teeth, make sure you bring this up with your dental care team at your next examination. They will recommend ways to reduce your sensitivity, which can include using sensitivity toothpaste as well as reducing acidic foods that can increase your tooth sensitivity. Acidic foods include oranges, lemons, soda pop, tea, and even grapefruit.
Why do I get canker sores?
There are many factors that play into the development of canker sores and there is no one “right or wrong” answers. Canker stores can be caused by trauma to the mouth from ill-fitting braces, ill-fitting dentures, or even pushing down too hard with a toothbrush. Canker sores may also be caused by certain acidic foods, such as fruits.
Will using smokeless tobacco hurt my oral health?
Yes. Even though there is no smoke, it is still harmful to your oral health. Problems that can be caused by smokeless tobacco include:
- Lumps and white patches
- Sores which won’t heal
- Sore throat that won’t go away
- Difficulty chewing
- Restricted jaw movement
- Restricted tongue movement
- Pain in the mouth
What do I do if my gums are bleeding?
Bleeding gums are a sign of gingivitis or periodontal disease. If you are experiencing bleeding gums, then you need to see a dentist right away in order to have the damage assessed; a treatment plan can then be created depending on the extent of your gingivitis or gum disease.
Will diabetes impact my oral health?
Modern research has shown that there is a link between gum disease and diabetes, including an increased risk for gum disease in people with diabetes. Uncontrolled diabetes can greatly increase the risk that you will develop serious gum disease or even lose your teeth. If you have diabetes, make an appointment with your regular physician to ensure that you are getting the proper medication that will help control your blood sugar levels.
What should I do about dental care while I’m pregnant?
If you are pregnant, you will need to keep a close eye on the health of your mouth. About 50% of pregnant women will develop pregnancy gingivitis. Women who have periodontal disease need to carefully monitor their disease during pregnancy, as studies have shown that periodontal disease increases the risk of babies being born pre-term and with a low birth weight; this is due to the presence of prostaglandin in the bloodstream, which is at higher levels in people with periodontal disease.
Do I need to take medication before my appointment?
In some cases, your dentist may instruct you to take a pre-medication before you head to the appointment. In most cases, this medication will be an antibiotic that will help prevent the chance of infection developing.
Will chemotherapy or radiation therapy impact my oral health?
If you are currently undergoing chemotherapy, radiation therapy or both, then you may experience problems in your oral health. Either one of these treatments can cause infections, sores, dry mouth, bleeding gums and pain in the mouth. Due to the fact that your immune system will likely be compromised during treatment, it is difficult to control these symptoms. A special mouth rinse can be prescribed in order to reduce discomfort felt during treatment.
Can I stop going to the dentist now that I have dentures?
You should still visit the dentist even when you “just” have dentures. Your oral health is about more than simply checking the state of your teeth. If you have dentures, you will want to make sure that your dentures still fit properly, that you aren’t developing mouth sores, and that your dentist examines you for signs of oral cancer or other serious problems that can be discovered during an exam.