What to Expect at a Dental Visit
Once you’ve found a dentist rockford illinois who makes you feel comfortable, the first step is to schedule a dental checkup. On this initial visit, your dentist will note your complete medical history. If any changes arise between visits, be sure to keep your dentist informed of these changes. The majority of dental visits are dental checkups, which are recommended every six months. Regular dental checkups help the teeth stay clean and healthy and can help prevent painful problems from arising.
Most dental checkups include a complete professional cleaning, usually performed by a dental hygienist. The dental hygienist uses specially designed instruments to scrape clean the area below the gumline, removing plaque and tartar that build up there. If left unaddressed, plaque and tartar can lead to gum disease, bad breath, and tooth decay, along with other problems. Brushing and flossing can help remove some plaque, but tartar, which is hardened plaque, can only be removed using the specialized tools a dental hygienist has. Your dental hygienist may also floss your teeth, and show you how to properly floss, as well as polishing the surfaces of the teeth to make them look and feel squeaky clean.
Checkups also include a complete dental examination, performed by your dentist. Your dentist will thoroughly examine your teeth, your gums, and your mouth, checking for any concerns or signs of disease. The goal is to identify any potential problems as early as possible and to treat them before they become too serious. Your dentist may also recommend x-rays, which can help diagnose problems that might otherwise be unseen, like damage to the bone, teeth that are impacted, or abscesses or cysts in the soft tissue. While modern x-ray machines emit very little radiation, you will be given a lead apron to wear as a precaution, and, if you are pregnant, be sure to tell your dentist, as routine x-rays are not recommended for pregnant patients. Some dentists also take panoramic x-rays, which allow them to evaluate a patient’s bite and the way their upper and lower teeth fit together, which can provide a deeper understanding of a patient’s specific circumstances.
Following your initial checkup, if your oral health is good, your dentist will recommend that you return in 6 months for another checkup and cleaning. If your dentist has found any issues, like a cavity or an impacted wisdom tooth, you will schedule an appointment sooner, to address the issue. If your dentist does find anything concerning, don’t be afraid to ask questions about the treatment procedure or next steps; part of a dentist’s role is to help patients understand the variety of things that contribute to oral health, and answering questions is just one of the many skills most dentists have. If you have a cavity, plan to see your dentist again soon. If you require a visit with a specialist, for something like wisdom tooth removal, ask your dentist for a referral to an oral surgeon who is on their team, and don’t be afraid to ask that dentist questions, too.