The first thing the dentist or hygienist will do, after bringing you in from the reception area, is go over your dental history. You may have seen them many times before, but they also see a large number of patients in between your six-month visits, so they need to get back up to speed. You can help them by reminding them of any medical issues you have or medicines that you are on. Also, tell them of any drug allergies you may have.
Once that small talk has been finished, it’s time to get down to real business. The hygienist will take some X-rays. It depends on the office. Some still do traditional bitewing X-rays where the patient has a leaded apron draped over them and they have to bite down on holders so that the hygienist can take different angles. The good news is that they are now largely uploaded to a computer instead of having to wait to have them developed in another room. X-rays are usually done yearly.
The Exam and Cleaning
Let’s assume the X-rays did not show any immediate issues. The hygienist will then do a quick visual exam, gently poking at the gums and seeing if any cavities, which are also known as dental caries, are visible on the teeth. Once satisfied there, they will put a suction tube to keep saliva out of the area that they are cleaning.
The main thing that they are doing when they do this part, usually with an electric pick that can quickly break down and remove any plaque that has built up along the gumline, is getting rid of that plaque while keeping an eye out for any pockets of tartar and bacteria that may have developed. They will be monitoring the levels of bleeding and watching out for signs of gum disease like gingivitis or even periodontitis. If you have been keeping twice-yearly visits, the worst you will likely have to worry about is the first one, which is reversible if caught early enough. If it’s advanced beyond that, then more work will be needed.
Once that has been completed, the hygienist will likely tell you what they saw. They may say to keep up the good work or they may point out areas that need some improvement – like maybe not brushing too hard or to brush more often or to possibly use a different toothpaste or mouthwash. Their goal is to make sure that you have smooth visits each time and their advice should be listened to.
After that the dentist may come in and examine your mouth to ensure that there are no dead teeth or that there are no signs of anything like oral cancer. If they give a thumbs up, the only order of business is making the next six-month appointment. If there is a problem, such as a need for a root canal due to a dead tooth being found or filling for a cavity, a follow-up may be required.
Ultimately, the goal of the dentist and hygienist is to just clean the teeth and gums during these visits, but it’s up to the patient to take care of their oral health in between. They should brush twice a day for two minutes and floss daily. Unlike high school and college exams, trying to cram late preparation before the appointment does not work. Be diligent and these visits will be just what they are supposed to be… routine.
Dr. Krupali Shah and the staff at Bethpage Smiles are all intent on making every visit a smooth one. If patients have any questions about what they need to do before a routine appointment, they can call ahead – 516-822-6659 – the staff will be more than glad to answer any queries or concerns.
Bethpage Smiles Family Dental – Dr. Krupali Shah
120 Bethpage Rd suite 310,
Hicksville, NY 11801
Phone: (516) 822-6659