It’s Been a Long Time Since I’ve Been to the Dentist!  What Can I Expect When I Go?

We know that many people fear returning to the dentist after a long period of time has passed since their last visit.  Some fear getting bad news about the health of their mouths.  Others fear a painful experience, which is likely what kept them away in the first place.  Still others feel ashamed or embarrassed and fear that someone will make them feel even more guilty than they already do.

Scared, apprehensive

Well, we cannot make claims for other offices, but we can promise that you will not feel any of those things at Prosper Family Dentistry.  We understand that there are many reasons someone stays away from the dentist for years at a time, and we are not here to judge you.  We are, however, here to help you.  We believe that the most important aspects of your first return visit to the dentist are a comprehensive evaluation, a detailed discussion about your desires and goals, an assessment of your unique risk factors, and education about your current condition.

Notice we did not include a teeth cleaning in that list.  The reason we left it out, despite its extremely high importance, is because it is not the first thing you need after your long absence.  The highest priorities at your first visit are feeling comfortable in our office and gaining an understanding of where you are, health-wise.

Comprehensive Evaluation

At your first visit with Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara, you can expect a comprehensive evaluation.  This means we look at, measure, take images of, and assess every part of your mouth and jaws.  Many of our new patients comment “That was the most thorough dental exam I’ve ever had in my life!”  We take that as a compliment.

Another way of describing this process is that we are gathering information about your oral health.  We gather information about past dental work, active cavities, gum disease, soft tissue screening for oral cancer, and the TMJs, among other things.  Gathering this information about your entire mouth requires dental x-rays, photos, and gum measurements.

Your Own Desires and Goals

We will spend talking with you so that we can understand what it is that you want for your oral health.  Do you just want to be disease-free?  Do you want to prevent future damage?  Do you want to change the appearance of your smile?  Do you have trouble cleaning your teeth at home?  Are there medical conditions that can affect the health of your mouth?

All of these things, which only you can tell us, have an impact on your dental care that we provide for you.  We don’t simply want you to be healthy.  We want to help you meet your personal goals.  In order to do that, great communication is essential.  At this first visit, we will spend more time just talking to you than you experience at a typical dental appointment.

Risk Assessment

Risk ManagementAfter we analyze all of the information that we gather through the comprehensive evaluation and our discussion with you, we will put together a risk assessment for you.  This means we do not treat each person the same.  Every person has unique areas of risk.  One person may frequently develop new cavities, while another can be 100% cavity-free and fighting gum disease.  Someone with perfectly healthy teeth and gums can struggle to chew due to TMJ problems.  At Prosper Family Dentistry, your treatment and any preventive recommendations we make are customized to your specific areas of risk.

For those of you who have not been to the dentist in a long time, this means there is usually some good news for you.  You might hear something like, “You do have some new cavities that need fixing, but the good news is that your gums and one are in great shape!”  We always look for a silver lining. 

Oral Health Education

By education, we really mean just explaining why certain dental problems occur, what you can do to prevent them in the future, and what particular red flags we see that might put you at risk for more problems.  We’re not giving any science classes.  We just want you to understand that drinking diet sodas can cause cavities even though they contain no sugar.  Or that teeth with root canals can get new cavities or even become re-infected.  We look at where you are and try to prepare you for what could be coming.  We believe that the better you understand dental problems, the more likely you are to stop them.

More Questions about Your First Dental Visit?

Call 972-347-1145 today to schedule your visit with Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara.  You will speak with our wonderful front office staff who can answer any questions you have about the initial visit.  You will experience nothing but kindness and respect, no matter how long it has been since you’ve seen a dentist.

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