What To Expect At Your Next Dental Checkup

VISITING YOUR DENTIST every six months is an important part of maintaining your oral health. Not only does it keep your smile beaming, but it can help you keep an eye on your overall health too!


For some, it may have been a while since your last visit or you or a loved one may be apprehensive about visiting the dentist. Knowing what to expect can help relieve much of this anxiety, so today we want to explain the basics of what happens during your bi-annual hygiene visit and how you can prepare for your next appointment!

Gather Necessary Information Beforehand

Discussing your family history may not be the first thing you think of when scheduling your dental appointment, but being familiar with your family’s medical history allows us to better care for your oral and overall health.

Like many other conditions such as heart disease and certain forms of cancer, periodontal disease has strong genetic ties that can run in your family. Knowing your family’s medical history can help your dentist keep an eye out for oral health issues such as gum disease or other conditions which present symptoms in the mouth, such as diabetes.

Aside from gathering any relevant personal or family medical information, be sure to review your dental insurance benefits as you prepare for your appointment. Knowing your level of coverage will help you understand what costs will be associated with your care. If you have any questions about using your dental insurance in our practice or if you would like information about paying for care without insurance, give us a call!

What Happens During Your Appointment?

Although this varies from patient to patient based on their individual needs, a dental check-up generally consists of a professional hygiene prophylaxis (aka “cleaning”), a periodic dental examination, and potentially X-rays.

Dental X-Rays

How frequently you need dental X-rays relies largely on your medical and dental history, your age, and your current oral health. New-patient examinations typically always include X-rays as well.

If required, dental X-rays are generally taken at the beginning of your dental appointment. Dental X-rays allow us to detect and diagnose tooth decay between teeth, on hard-to-reach surfaces, and under existing dental work. X-rays can even be helpful in identifying dental and orthodontic issues that exist beneath the gum line.  They also act as an excellent screening tool for abnormalities or infection we may be unaware is present.

Dental Prophylaxis (aka Cleaning)

Once it’s time for your prophylaxis, your hygienist uses a small metal instrument known as a scaler to scrape off tartar above and below the gum line and in between teeth. A cavitron may be used as well, it is an advanced scaler with ultrasonic capability to thoroughly flush out tartar and bacteria.  Next, they polish your teeth using a polishing tool and a lightly abrasive paste to deep clean your pearly whites and remove any tartar left behind after the previous step.  A prophyjet may be used as well to help eliminate stain and create a wonderful polish.  Last but not least, they’ll finish with a thorough flossing.

Periodic Exam

During the visit, your dentist will perform a periodic oral examination to ensure your oral health is in tip-top shape. They will:

  • examine your teeth for signs of decay
  • check for gum swelling and redness, and measure the depth of your gingival pockets to check for signs of periodontal disease
  • test how your top and bottom teeth come together and check for signs of teeth grinding or other potential orthodontic issues
  • examine your neck, lymph glands, and oral cavity for signs of oral cancer

Based on your exam, we’ll discuss any necessary treatment recommendations and offer helpful tips on how to improve your oral hygiene before your next appointment.

Check out the video below for more information on the importance of regular dental exams!

What Should You Do After Your Appointment?

Whether your next appointment is in 6 months or even sooner, we’re looking forward to seeing your smile! Be sure to maintain a good oral hygiene routine and follow any additional instructions provided by your dentist before your next visit. If you have any questions about what to expect from a visit to our office, let us know!

We love our patients!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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