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woman getting her teeth checked at the dentist office


Dental checkups can be nerve-wracking. No one wants to hear that their at-home efforts of taking care of their teeth aren’t up to snuff from a disappointed dentist. Dental visits are the perfect opportunity to take control of your oral health.


Follow these 5 tips to get the most out of your dental visit and for better quality dental checkups in 2019.


The Dental Checkup: What to Expect

In most cases, a dental hygienist and dentist will perform your dental checkup. Not every dentist operates the same way, but a dental checkup typically involves:

  • Cleaning and polishing. Your dental hygienist will use a special instrument called a hand scaler or ultrasonic dental instrument to scrape and remove the tartar from your teeth. He or she will then polish your teeth, often with a rotating rubber cup or brush, to remove any remaining plaque or stains.
  • Education. After the cleaning, your hygienist or dentist will discuss any dental hygiene problems that were detected and show you how to brush and floss more effectively, if necessary.
  • Examination. Both your dental hygienist and the dentist will examine your teeth, gums, and mouth, to look for changes or signs of a problem (for example, a cavity or gum disease or early signs of oral cancer). During the examination, your dentist may also use a special probe to measure the “pockets” between your teeth and gums, an explorer tool to poke at your teeth and determine if any cavities are present, and a mouth mirror to get a better view of the sides and back of your teeth. If you have any visible problems, your dentist may recommend a particular treatment or may refer you to a specialist, such as a periodontist or an orthodontist, for further treatment.
  • X-rays. At some of your dental visits, your dentist may decide to take X-rays of your teeth to look for decay, gum disease, or other dental problems. X-rays expose you to radiation so to avoid having them done more than necessary, bring copies of previous X-rays with you when you’re visiting a new dentist.

Getting the Most Out of Your Dental Checkup

It is always vital to communicate any concerns or issues you are having with your dentist. Your oral health is closely related to your overall health, so discuss any new health problems you have been diagnosed with since your last visit.


Discuss Any Concerns

Talk with your dentist about any problems or changes you have noticed with your teeth, gums, or other areas of the inside of your mouth. The earlier your dentist knows about any pain, sensitivity or a suspicious lump, the earlier your issue can be diagnosed and treated.


Make a List of Medications

Before your appointment, make a list of all medications and supplements you take, including their dosages. Taking this list with you to your dental checkup so your dentist can review it will keep everyone looking out for your health and wellbeing. The best way for your dentist to make an informed decision is to have as much information as possible.


Be Open and Honest

Not many people enjoy going to the dentist. However, for some, the thought of teeth cleanings and exams brings on dental anxiety. Dental anxiety is common, with up to 15 percent of Americans avoiding seeing a dentist due to fear.


The best thing you can do to get over your dental anxiety is to talk to your dentist about it. If you are feeling anxious about something, let us know so we can help!


Ask For Advice

When you have the right dentist, your dental treatments and regular checkups will be a relaxing and enjoyable experience. More importantly, these visits will be an excellent opportunity to take control of your dental health and set yourself up for a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums. Communication is one of the most useful tools for maintaining a healthy mouth. Ask your dentist these questions at your next checkup:

  1. Does my mouth look healthy?
  2. What can I do to improve the overall health of my teeth and gums?
  3. Which treatments are necessary and which are optional?
  4. Is there any reason I should be scheduling periodic checkups more often?
  5. Are there any dental products you recommend for me?

Our goal at Tompkins Dental is to make sure you leave our office with the answers and information you need to maintain a beautiful smile. Call today to schedule your first cleaning and exam of 2019.


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