What to Ask a Dentist at Your First Appointment

Whether you are moving to a new town or just deciding to change oral care practitioners, your first visit to the new office is crucial and you may be wondering what to ask a dentist at your first meeting. When you schedule your appointment as a new patient, the office staff will probably tell you to arrive a few minutes early to complete the required paperwork. At this time, you may want to ask if the dentist will be available to talk with you for a few minutes at your appointment or if you need to schedule a consultation slot to have enough time for your questions.

Other than just getting a general feel of whether your new practitioner is a good fit with your family's needs, you will also want to ask about scheduling and how hard it is to get in for an appointment in case of an emergency. Some offices book months in advance, making it difficult to get in if you need to schedule a last minute cleaning or procedure. Other dentists leave a few slots open during the week to accommodate these kinds of visits.

When deciding what to ask a dentist, it is also important to find out whether your dentist has a colleague who provides backup in cases where the main doctor is sick or on vacation. There may be several dentists in the practice that rotate, so this is another important point to clear up if it is important to you to see the same person each time.

If you have young children, you will want to ask your dentist how he or she deals with pediatric appointments. Some offices have dental hygienists that specialize in working with young children, which can help alleviate that first-visit anxiety that is common. You might also inquire about any special things that the office does, such as flavored fluoride treatments and tooth polishes, as well as end-of-visit goody bags with stickers and the like.

While you are asking your questions, remember to take note of the overall chair-side manner of the dentist. If you feel rushed or like he or she is not listening to you or responding appropriately, you may want to consider continuing your search for the perfect oral care practitioner for your family.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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What To Expect During a DENTAL VISIT

On your first visit, your dentist will take a full health history. On follow-up visits, if your health status has changed, make sure to tell your dentist. Here’s what you can expect during most trips to the dentist.

  • A Thorough Cleaning – a dental hygienist or dentist will scrape along and below the gum line to remove built-up plaque and tartar that can cause gum disease, cavities, bad breath and other problems. Then he or she will polish and floss your teeth.

  • A Full Dental Examination – your dentist will perform a thorough examination of your teeth, gums and mouth, looking for signs of disease or other problems.

  • X-Rays – X-rays can diagnose problems otherwise unnoticed, such as damage to jawbones, impacted teeth, abscesses, cysts or tumors, and decay between the teeth.