At this time of year, we see a lot of patients who are coming in because they absolutely have to. Whether it’s because they have damaged a tooth over Christmas (toffee and Christmas crackers are the key culprits here) or just overindulged on the sugary sweets and have a toothache, there are a lot of reluctant patients every January! Many patients have switched to our practice because their previous dentists made them feel embarrassed about how long it had been since they had a check up or a clean. Well, in Fleet we aren’t like that, and to help you feel comfortable and relaxed about your dental appointment, we want to show you what your average check up will be like.
Even if you’ve been a patient with us for a long time, we will ask you about your general health, smoking or drinking habits and your teeth cleaning routine. The reason for this is that we see most of our patients every 6 months for their check ups, and a lot can change in 6 months. You could have developed a serious illness, been battling a minor infection or taken up/increased your smoking or drinking routine, all of which will affect your oral hygiene. At this point you should tell us about any problems you’ve been experiencing – health wise and teeth wise- over the last few months, even if it doesn’t seem relevant. From this we can give you advice about your routine and any changes you might need to make.
Now we will lean you back in the chair and ask you to say AAAAA. At this point we will conduct a visual check of your mouth and teeth. Here we are looking for abnormalities in your gums and lips like ulcers or abscesses, as well as a general look at the positioning and condition of your teeth. We may use a small mirror and a small light for this to help us see the teeth hidden at the back. We can tell a lot about your oral health from this check alone. For example, some evidence of gum disease could be visible (if you know what to look for), if your teeth are crooked or misaligned or have holes in them. During this check you will be wearing our trends dark glasses to protect your eyes from our bright lights!
Poking And Prodding
This is the part a lot of patients are most concerned about – when the tools come out. This is necessary because not all dental problems are obvious on visual inspection. Using a dental probe, we are able to feel the bumps and valleys on your teeth for abnormalities. If we feel a ‘tackiness’ or softness on your teeth, it could be a sign of tooth decay. If we find a hole, we are able to explore and see if the tooth is dead, if there is an active infection or if it is simply a cavity that needs filling. This process is completely painless, and we are very gentle with the probe! A lot of patents are nervous of the dental probe due to previous experiences with rough dentists, but we recognise that using the probe with too much force can actually cause damage, so we are very gentle and aware of your comfort.
If you’re a new patient, there might be a few extra things we need to go through in your initial visit. You will be asked to fill in a medical history questionnaire while you are waiting to be seen, so we can get a good idea of your background and anything that might affect your teeth. It is a good idea to have the details of any major operations you have had or medications you are taking to hand. It might seem insignificant, but these details not only affect what we might need to check in your visit, but also areas where you may be susceptible to infections or disease, or it could affect what medications we prescribe you.
If all is well, you will be able to leave your check up now. It is a very simple procedure that doesn’t normally take longer than 10 minutes, and will keep you and your dentist happy. We don’t want you to need expensive and painful surgery or procedures to fix issues, and these short, gentle check ups mean we can catch problems early and prevent this. If you have any questions, or just need to book your own check up, get in touch today.