Dr. John Hubbard and Dr. Kelly Chotowetz

What to Expect at Your First Visit

What to Expect at Your First Visit

Dental Examination

Everybody needs regular preventive dental examinations. Even if you have excellent home care and brush and floss regularly your teeth and gums still need regular care and examination from a dental professional. Dental exams are just as important if you wear dentures, have dental implants, or are taking medication or receiving treatments that affect your mouth in some way.

How often you are seen for a dental examination depends on your personal oral health needs and the recommendations of your Dentist and Registered Dental Hygienist at Summit Dental. The goal is to catch small problems early. For most patients, this means a check up every six months. Your Dentist or Registered Dental Hygienist may suggest that you visit more or less often depending on how well you care for your teeth and gums, dental problems you have that need to be checked or treated, if you are in orthodontic treatment, also how fast deposits builds up on your teeth.

No matter how carefully you take care of your teeth and gums, or how carefully you look for signs of problems, there are a number of oral health conditions that only your dentist can see. Various medical conditions can also be detected during your dental check up, often in their early stages. Your dentist has been trained to identify the oral manifestations of these conditions, and can refer you to other health professionals for treatment.

During your dental examination at Summit Dental, the dentist will look for early signs of oral cancer and many other diseases. Your dentist will also look for gum disease, cavities, eroded fillings, tooth fractures, and oral infections. Your dentist is trained to catch small problems before they become big ones, and can often treat a problem right away. Some things your dentist will be checking for include: early signs of gum disease, eroded fillings, infections, oral cancer, the breaking down of existing dental restorations as well as problems with your occlusion (bite). Many small problems can be caught before they get big and can often be treated right away.

Some dental problems your dentist can see that you can't:

  • Periodontal pockets caused by gum disease.
  • Early signs of gum disease.
  • Early signs of oral cancer.
  • Breakdown of fillings, crowns and other restorations.
  • Cavities under existing fillings.
  • New decay under the gumline.
  • Root cavities - decay on roots of teeth exposed by receding gums.
  • Hairline tooth fractures.
  • Impacted wisdom teeth.
  • Signs of other problems that could affect your general health

Always remember to tell your dentist about any changes in your teeth such as: changes in colour, position, soreness or looseness. Make sure to point out any changes in your gums such as; changes in colour, tenderness or bleeding when you brush and floss, if your floss catches or shreds when you are flossing. Tell your dentist if you have noticed any changes in the skin on the inside of your mouth, such as changes in colour, and mention if your jaw pops or clicks and if you clench or grind your teeth, or if your neck and jaw muscles are tense.

It is important to tell your dentist if you are nervous about dental visits. This feeling is called dental anxiety. Even people who visit the dentist on a regular basis sometimes get "butterflies in the stomach." In severe cases, fear can be so bad that people who really need to see a dentist stay away and puts their dental health at risk. Sometimes it is simply the fear of pain that keeps people from visiting the dentist regularly. If you are afraid of going to the dentist for any reason, don't be shy to talk to your dentist about it. Your dentist has many ways to help you relax.

Health and Dental History

At your first visit (as well as your subsequent check ups) the dentists and staff at Summit Dental will ask you about any oral or general health concerns you may have (such as: changes in your teeth, sensitive gums, allergies, medical conditions, changes in medication). Always make sure your dentist has your updated medical history.

It is always important to let your dentist know all the details of your general health. Remember to mention if you smoke (smoking can lead to serious problems like oral cancer), about any allergies you have, about any health problem or medical condition you are being treated for, about any medications you are taking (prescription and non), if your medication has changed since your last dental visit, as well as about any other changes in your general health. If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant please discuss this with your dentist and dental hygienist as there are many considerations to be discussed.

A common side effect some patients suffer from while taking certain medications is dry mouth. In addition to being uncomfortable, this condition can aggravate other dental problems and increase the risk of decay. Please mention it to your dentist.

Be sure to tell your dental professional about any changes in your general health or lifestyle. You should also mention any stress-producing factors in your life, since stress affects the condition of your mouth.

Please remember to bring a list of any medications you are taking both prescription and non-prescription to your dental visit.

Radiographs

Dental radiographs or x-rays provide valuable information about a patient's oral health. They allow the dentist to examine the underlying bone, the jaw joints, the roots of the teeth, unerupted teeth, and the contact areas between teeth where they touch one another.

Summit Dental uses digital radiography to take patient's dental x-rays. Digital radiography uses significantly less radiation to produce excellent images. The software used to view the images allows the doctors to zoom in on areas of concern, better for diagnosing and explaining concerns to patients.

In some instances dental x-rays can reveal a condition at an early stage before a patient is even aware of any signs or symptoms that there is a problem. Dental X-rays may disclose, among other things:

  • areas of decay in or between the teeth, and under existing dental restorations
  • signs of periodontal (gum) disease
  • abscesses, cysts or tumors
  • developmental and other abnormalities of both teeth and bones
  • evidence of trauma
  • evidence of other medical conditions or diseases

When you become a new patient the doctors at Summit Dental would like to see any radiographs that can be made available from your previous dental office. It is best to let us call your previous dentist's office to find out what x-rays they have on file and when they were taken. Your dentist will probably recommend a complete-mouth series of radiographs and/or a panoramic x-ray to determine the condition of hidden areas of the mouth and to help analyze any changes that may present at a later date. Up to date radiographs are required to determine whether any decay is present, to evaluate the severity of periodontal (gum) disease, or to assess the status of growth and development in children.

Children often need radiographs more frequently than adults because their oral structure and growing and changing as well as their high risk for developing tooth decay. Your dentist will use these radiographs to chart the growth and development and ensure permanent teeth are erupting properly.

Patients should always tell their dentist if they are or think they may be pregnant. Please see our section on Pregnancy and your Oral Health.

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