Knowing what happens during a new patient exam can help you understand what to expect, as well as, mitigate any fears or anxiety you may feel, especially if you haven’t had a dental examination in a while. A new patient exam provides the dentist with enough information to formulate a plan for your dental treatment, both short term and long term. This will keep you healthy and help avoid dental health problems such as gum disease.
When you arrive for your appointment, you’ll be asked to fill out an intake form or medical history questionnaire. It will include questions about your medical history and general health, any medications you may be taking, and any major illnesses or medical procedures you’ve had. Your dentist needs this information to provide appropriate care and avoid prescribing or using medications that may interact with medication you’re already taking.
After your forms are complete, you’ll be taken to an examination room where you’ll get to meet your dentist in St George. The dentist will discuss any concerns he has, and you’ll be able to ask questions and give any additional information or make any special requests. Let your dentist know if you have any fears or concerns so they can be addressed.
The first thing your dentist will do during an exam is look at your face and neck for abnormalities such as bumps or swelling. He will then look inside your mouth for any discolorations or ulcers. Your dentist will also perform an oral cancer screening and check your bite and jaw joint for problems. He will examine your gums and jawbone for any signs of gingivitis, gum disease, or bone disease. Then, he will check your teeth for cavities or other problems. He will be sure to look specifically any place you have symptoms or concerns.
The dentist will complete a visual examination of your mouth with a small mirror and a light. The light may be above the dental chair or it may be attached to the dentist’s head. You may be asked to wear glasses to protect your eyes from the bright light and any splashing, especially if you are having your teeth cleaned as well. As the dentist proceeds with the examination, a dental chart will be filled in either on paper or on a computer. The notes the dentist makes on the chart are the beginning of your patient record. This information will provide a benchmark for future visits.
The dentist will do a visual check of your gums. The dentist will check your gums and teeth for any signs of gum disease. A small probe is used to identify any areas of gingivitis and to check for calcium deposits known as calculus or tartar. This information will help the dentist develop a preventative care plan for you.
Your dentist can use a tool known as a “probe” or “explorer” to examine your teeth. This tool will help the dentist find any spots that indicate early decay, which may not show up on x-rays. The dentist can also use a tool called a “diagnodent.” This tool is a laser that helps the dentist see any decay.
In most cases, your dentist will conduct an x-ray for a more accurate examination. X-rays will be taken by the dentist or the dental staff. You’ll be asked to open your mouth so the x-ray film can be placed in the right position, then you’ll be asked to bite down on a small tab. Once the film is placed, the x-ray beam will be placed near your face, and the x-ray will be taken. Your dentist may require a full-mouth series, which will include up to 18 x-ray films. X-rays are very helpful in general dentistry to show the dentist where you have any problems with your teeth.
After the new patient examination is complete and all the information is charted, the dentist will talk to you about any findings and a preventative care plan. You’ll learn about any general dentistry procedures that need to be scheduled for the health of your teeth and gums as well as any concerns the dentist has. You’ll find out how many appointments your treatment will require. Following the dental care plan as recommended by your dentist in St. George will help you maintain optimal health and a beautiful smile.