First, it is important to find a dentist or a dental clinic with whom you feel comfortable. Once you’ve found a dentist or dental clinic you like, your next step is to schedule a check-up at a convenient time to visit before any problem arise. Don’t wait till when you start having pains, severe discomfort or psychological problems before you do that. How to find a good dentist have been discussed in one of our articles titled “things you should do before choosing a dentist”
On your first visit to the dentist, the dentist will take a comprehensive health history by asking some important questions. On subsequent visits, if your general health status has changed, please notify them because doctors work majorly and firstly on what patients tell them before they carry out further examinations and investigation on their patients.
Apart from your background information like FULL NAME , AGE, GENDER, ADDRESS, MARITAL STATUS , TRIBE, OCCUPATION which you must have supplied at the front desk for many obvious reasons other than record keeping.
WHAT THEY WANT TO KNOW
They should know about everything in order to help properly diagnose your condition and give you the most appropriate care . DO NOT LIE ABOUT YOUR HEALTH CONDITION on your first visit and at any other time . These are the things you need to discuss with them:
ALL YOUR GENERAL HEALTH ISSUES
- You should discuss your overall health and any disease you have previously or recently being diagnosed as having especially at your first visit.
- This includes any medical condition that you think is not related to your mouth or dental care, especially management diseases like hypertension, diabetes, asthma, sickle cell disease, HIV status etc.
- If you are on any prescription (routine medications) or over-the-counter medications you need to give your dentist the names and the dosages.
- This is not to stigmatise you but to enable the dentist know everything about your health so that they can determine the best treatment approaches to take care of your teeth and mouth.
ANY FEAR YOU HAVE
- This is one the main reasons why people run away from dentists, very often patients are afraid of the dentist and these fears can start in childhood.
- You need to intimate the dentist about your fears or any unpleasant experiences you may have had because sometimes what you are most afraid of may no longer be an issue.
- Most dentists establish trust relationship at the first visit so you should feel relaxed.
- The methods of dealing with dental and facial pain are constantly improving on yearly basis
- If you have any serious health condition, let them examine you for signs so that you can either be diagnosed or be told you have nothing to worry about.
YOUR OVERALL DENTAL HEALTH HISTORY
- Inform your dentist if you suspect that you have a new hole/ cavity or pain,
- If your teeth have more sensitivity to cold or hot than in the past, and
- If you are feeling any lumps or sores anywhere inside your mouth.
- Do not sit there silently wondering if they will spot something, Dentist are not magicians.
- If you suspect anything is wrong, or you notice any discomfort in the way you chew or bite with your teeth. This is the time to discuss your concerns openly as this will save time you are meant to spend on the dental chair
A comprehensive dental examination is not limited to dentist looking at your teeth. They would also carefully examine all areas in and out of your mouth for any indication for disease.
The dentist will likely examine the following areas especially on your first visit:
FULL HEAD AND NECK AREA
- The dentist will carefully examine your head, neck, including your temporomandibular or jaw joint (TMJ), your salivary glands and the lymph nodes that are in the area of your neck, just below your jaw for swelling ,pain and discolouration.
- He or she will also examine your face and lips for any swelling, bleeding, excessive dryness or anything unusual that might need to be further looked into.
- The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) controls the lower jaw when closing or opening the mouth. Your dentist will ask you to open and close your mouth and also to move your lower jaw side-to-side and repeatedly. This is to find out if your TMJ is working properly and smoothly. While you’re moving your jaw and mouth your dentist will likely be pressing on the joint to feel whether or not it’s snapping and tender to touch which might indicate a problem. If you’ve been feeling any soreness or pain or hearing any sound in that area, your dentist will want to know.
- During the exam our dentist will be touching the area in your neck and the base of your lower jaw where the lymph nodes and glands are. If there’s swelling or pain, you may have an active infection or disease.
- Your salivary glands will also be looked at and touched for any abnormalities.
PERIODONTAL CHECK OF GUMS AND SUPPORTING STRUCTURES
- Thorough examination of the gums and the area supporting your teeth will be done especially on your first visit. Our dentist will be looking for red or swollen gums. He might gently poke them to see if they bleed. Gum disease is present If they are red, puffy and bleeds
- A special instrument might be used as a measuring device for the pockets (space) between your teeth and the gums. If a pocket measures over 3mm there might be periodontal (attachment loss) disease.
SOFT TISSUES IN THE MOUTH
- Our dentist will thoroughly examine all the soft tissue starting from the inside of your lips and cheeks, your tongue, and the roof and floor of your mouth for sores, cuts, swelling, spots, discolouration, growths or anything else that might be abnormal.
OCCLUSION OR YOUR BITE
- A comprehensive dental exam should include a check for how well the upper and lower teeth fit together. This is done by a complete exam of your dentition and bite especially on your first visit.
- You will first be asked to bite down normally and swallow your saliva and the arrangement of your teeth are assessed.
The dentist will closely examine each tooth for holes and signs of decay using a dental mirror. Your teeth will also be poked with a special tool to locate cavities or holes.
Enamel is the hardest substance produced in the body but decayed enamels tend to be softer than healthy one. Any previous fillings you have, crowns, artificial teeth and permanent bridges or restorations would be checked to make sure they are intact and firm and the teeth around them will be looked at too for any signs of decay or crack or fracture
RADIOGRAPHS/ XRAY IMAGES WILL BE TAKEN USING X-RAYS
- Investigation that may be carried out after examination includes but not limited to radiographic images using X-ray machine to help the dentist to see beyond the naked eye.
- Depending on your age, risks of disease and symptoms, dentist may recommend mouth Xrays. X-rays often diagnose problems otherwise unnoticed, such as cysts or tumours, and decay between the teeth tooth support loss, damage to jawbones, impacted (buried) teeth, abscesses and fractures of bones
- Some parts of the teeth such as the inner layers of the teeth and the root if there is infection in the case of toothache, the bone support if there is any bone loss due to gum disease etc.
- A modern dental office uses machines that emit virtually very little or no radiation — no more than you would receive from a day in the sun or a weekend watching TV. You should at least always wear a lead apron/ jacket as a form of precautionary measure, while taking an X-ray.
- Please, inform your dentist if you are pregnant, as X-rays should only be taken in emergency situations.
- Your dentist may ask for a Panoramic X-ray or OPG, This type of film provides a complete view of your upper and lower jaw in a single picture as shown above, and helps the dentist understand your bite and the relationship between the different teeth and your jaws.
Based on the questions asked and answers supplied on the complaints you presented with, the symptoms experienced ,the probable cause of the condition ,the complications following the condition and previous treatment(s) done (if any) , the past dental and medical histories, drug history , family and social history in addition to the observable signs seen in your mouth after the examinations ,the dentist may or may not request for some investigations such as x-ray and make a diagnosis. After which the dentist will educate and counsel you on the conditions; various treatment options would be discussed with you and the treatment plans highlighted with the cost of treatment.
The treatment may be one-day visit or a-week visit .The dentist would then discuss with you and schedule your next appointment as the case may be.
Can you share your first experience at the clinic with us?
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