If you’ve been away from the dentist in a while, and have (finally!) decided to get back on the wagon, your first visit is a great opportunity to start a good, long-term relationship.
To begin, I strongly recommend you choose your dentist based on a referral from friends, family or co-workers. Strong online reviews can also be an alternative if you’re new to an area.
To help ensure the optimum first visit–because it tends to be more involved; you are new to them and they to you–here are some tips:
Before Your Visit
1.Check out the website, location, reviews, and what services are offered, and ensure they match your needs.
2. When making the appointment, get the highlights–insurance questions, verify appointment time, appointment length, etc.
3. You know there will be paperwork, so check if it’s available online. If not, make plans to be there 10-15 min ahead of your time. If you carry dental insurance , remember to bring your card. This gives you plenty of time to get it done, or else paperwork will spill over into the time the dentist or hygienist could be giving you their attention.
4. If you’ve had x-rays within the last year, request them from your previous dentist, or get new ones taken. Regular check ups and x-rays are key to staying in maintenance/small problems-easier-to-fix mode instead of darn-I-have-an-emergency-and-it’s-gonna-be-painful-and-cost-twice-as-much mode.
During Your Visit
5. If you have specific questions or issues, be sure to ask them (write them down and make a list if you think you might forget).
6. If you have any appliances you want checked, such as a night guard, retainers, snore guard, etc., take them with you so the dentist can check the fit and even freshen them up.
7. If you feel the discussion with your dentist is too complicated, please do not hesitate to ask and clarify. Discussions about your oral health should be a two-way street. And knowing the ‘why’ makes the ‘what’ and ‘how much’ easier to understand and modify if/when needed.
8. At the end of the visit, be sure to ask any questions that come up during your appointment. You can also consider buying any recommended products (they’re often at better prices than retail or pharmacy). Pick up a business card or two as well, so as to have their contact info handy.
9. Relax! Every dentist and their team are aware that most people are somewhat anxious and uncomfortable during a dental visit. If something is uncomfortable, say so. Modern tools and technology can make dental treatment much more comfortable than in the past.
Keeping an open mind and a good attitude can allow the dental team to do their best, and in return, you get their best. Most dentists really do want to try to keep your visits comfortable and pleasant, and help you achieve and maintain great oral health . And your first dental visit can pave the way.