Visiting the Dentist After a Long Time Away? Five Things You Need to Know

Occasionally we see patients who haven’t been to the dentist in years. Whether you stopped visiting the dentist because you didn’t have insurance or because you lost track of time, there’s no better time than today to get back on track. In today’s blog post, we’ve compiled everything you need to know before visiting if it’s been awhile since your last dental appointment.

1. Be Prepared for a Full Exam
Generally, any patient who has gone for an extended period of time without professional dental care should get a full exam during his or her return appointment. Your full exam will likely include the following points:

  • Dental x-rays to look for bone loss, malformed roots, teeth that haven’t come in yet, jaw structure, and tooth decay
  • Deep cleaning and scaling to remove plaque, tartar, and calculus
  • Tooth polishing
  • Oral cancer screening

After some time away, you may also have developed cavities or lost some of your tooth enamel. Your dentist can recommend any procedures you may need to prevent more serious complications in the future.

2. Plan Ahead for a Longer Appointment
You’re likely to have a significant amount of plaque built up on your teeth after years without professional oral care. In most cases, it will take longer for your dental hygienist to remove these deposits from your teeth. Plan ahead for a slightly longer appointment so that you won’t run late for anything else if your cleaning takes longer than expected. You may also experience some pain and discomfort during the cleaning and swelling or bleeding for a couple of days afterward. Cleanings generally don’t cause pain, but they can be uncomfortable if you wait too long between appointments.

3. Update Your Medical History
Make sure your dentist is aware of any recent changes to your medical history. Your dentist should know if you’ve had any recent health problems, surgeries, hospitalizations, or major diagnoses. It’s also important to let the dentist know if you’re taking any medications. While you’re checking over the forms, be sure to also verify that your personal information is all listed correctly.

4. Let the Dentist Know If You’re Nervous
Many people are afraid of dental treatment, and there’s nothing to be ashamed of if you’re a little nervous about your appointment. Let your dentist and hygienist know in advance so that they can take extra care during your exam and cleaning. Dental professionals are used to working with anxious patients, and they may be able to recommend alternative treatment methods to alleviate your fears. At ADC Dental, we take care to make your appointment as painless and positive as possible.

5. Preventative Care is Your Best Solution
Some patients are afraid of getting lectures when they return to the dentist after many years. Though your dentist and hygienist may take some time to advise you on the most important dental care procedures you can follow at home, rest assured that you aren’t being lectured or judged for your typical oral care routine. We truly believe that a simple routine of brushing twice per day and flossing once per day is the easiest and most effective way to build a strong foundation for your oral health, and we hope to help all of our patients achieve great results!

image by Christopher Schmitt