What to expect at your routine dental appointment
It is very important that you attend for your routine dental appointments as this allows the dentist to perform a complete assessment of your teeth and gums, ensuring that any problems can be detected early and therefore reducing the need for extensive dental restorations. The dentist will advise on how often you need to attend; this would normally be every 6-9 months.
Prior to your appointment you may be asked to fill in or update a medical history form. This is to ensure that the dentist has accurate records on any medical conditions you have, treatment you are receiving, allergies and medication you are taking. All information is completely confidential and is held under the 1988 Data Protection Act.
The dentist needs to know what medication you are taking in order to best plan your treatment. For example, if you take warfarin this thins the blood and means that prior to extractions or invasive dental procedures you will need a blood test to check your INR level. There are also certain medications that would require any invasive procedures to be completed in hospital where the appropriate backup is in place should it be needed.
You will be collected from the waiting room and shown into the surgery. Once you are comfortably seated in the dental chair the dentist will inspect your teeth, gums and soft tissues. All details are recorded as part of your ongoing patient record. This enables the dentist to track your dental health between visits over time.
X-rays are used to detect early signs of tooth decay. X-rays detect decay under fillings and between teeth, in areas not easily visible. They can be also used to show abscesses or infections which are present below the gum line.
If you are a new patient, the dentist will recommend that x-rays are taken at your first visit. This enables the dentist to fully assess the condition of your mouth and check for any hidden problems. X-rays are recommended every 9 to 24 months depending on various dental risk factors, including your history of decay, age and the condition of your mouth.
Gum disease is now the leading cause of tooth loss in adults in the UK. The first indicator of gum disease is blood when you brush your teeth. The dentist will use a CPITN probe to give them an indication of your gum health and will use your x-rays to determine if there has been any bone loss in your jaw. Good oral hygiene and regular appointments to the dentist and hygienist are the best possible ways to help avoid gum disease.
At each routine appointment your dentist will also complete a full mouth cancer check. They will fully examine your mouth and tongue and if they notice any abnormalities they will refer you to the hospital for further testing to be carried out.
Oral Health Messages
At your appointment the dentist will also advise you on the best oral hygiene products to help you maintain a healthy smile. Should you require any additional treatment you will be given a full and detailed treatment plan explaining the costs and options.
There are three key areas which can help you to develop and maintain a healthy mouth. They are to:
- Brush your teeth last thing at night and on at least one other occasion with a fluoride toothpaste.
- Cut down on how often you have sugary foods and drinks.
- Visit your dentist regularly, as often as they recommend.
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