Whether you’ve been between dentists, without insurance, or simply busy with other obligations, it may have been a while since you’ve been in for a cleaning and checkup. Ironically, some patients find themselves reluctant to make appointments because so much time has passed since their last exam. It can feel a little embarrassing to admit to your dentist that you haven’t had a cleaning in a long time, but having a big lapse between appointments happens more often than you think. And, even if it has already been a few years, coming in now can mean a big difference for your mouth!
How Should I Prepare for My First Appointment Back?
Whether you’re a new patient to our practice or returning after a long lack of exams, be sure to arrive for your appointment on time or a little early. If you’re already feeling a little stressed over the thought of sitting in the exam chair, you certainly don’t want to add the worry of running late! Also, new patients should expect to spend a few minutes prior to the exam filling out some paperwork (you can get started here) so that we can get to know you – and your dental history – a little better. Don’t forget to bring any important information that you need with you, including your insurance information and a list of any medications that you’re currently taking. If you have any questions for the dentist, it never hurts to jot those down for us too!
Anyone who is coming in for an appointment after a lapse in dental treatment should also be mindful of their plans immediately following the appointment. It’s best not to schedule any meetings or activities you can’t cancel immediately after your visit. Since it’s been some time since your previous appointment, your visit will probably run a little bit longer than the average visit.
What Can I Expect During the Cleaning and Exam?
If you haven’t been seen in some time, plaque has had plenty of time to adhere to your teeth and build up there. This is one of the reasons why your visit may take a longer than you are used to; it will take some time to remove that plaque from your teeth – but trust us, your teeth will thank you! You might experience some slight discomfort as the plaque is removed and, if you have not been flossing regularly, your gums may bleed a little as well. This is a completely normal physical reaction and nothing to be worried about.
Realistically, if you have not had a visit in years, you probably have acquired at least one cavity during that time period. Regular maintenance and coming in for check-ups is required for keeping your smile healthy and bright. When you aren’t able to come in to the office in a while, decay seizes the opportunity and goes to work! So, don’t be surprised or disappointed if you need a filling or two; most adults develop at least one cavity in their permanent teeth during their lifetimes. Having a filling done can be a little physically uncomfortable, but it’s probably not as big of an ordeal as you may imagine! We are as gentle with, and as mindful of, our patients as possible.
Hopefully, after you’ve been through your first appointment back in a while and found that it was not as scary as you had thought, you will feel much better about your smile! Now is the perfect time to get back on track with regularly scheduled exams and cleanings, so please be sure to make – and keep – an appointment for another checkup in 6 months. Aren’t healthy habits so much easier to maintain once you know you’re back “on the ball” with them? We hope to see you soon for your next appointment and regularly thereafter!