Between life getting busy, dental insurance changes, or even fear, some patients find that far more than six months have passed since their last teeth cleaning exam. If you haven’t been to the dentist in years, what do you do? Here are some of our best tips.
What to expect if you haven’t been to the dentist in years
First and foremost, we want you to know that if you haven’t been to the dentist in years it’s okay. Perhaps you feel embarrassed that your teeth are too dirty or stained or, like nearly a quarter of Americans, you experience dental anxiety. But a friendly and professional dentist will not judge you or your reasons for the time since your last visit. Their main goal will be to restore you to your best oral health and will make sure you are comfortable with their work.
Here’s what to expect if you haven’t been to the dentist in years.
1) You may need a longer appointment to start
If it’s been several years since you last went to the dentist, it’s likely you will need a more extended cleaning. Even if you’ve taken great care of your teeth in your time away, you will have had plaque build-up that will need to be removed, and this can take some time.
Your dentist may also need new paperwork, your new insurance information and an updated medical history. So your first appointment back could take a bit longer than a regular visit. Plan plenty of time for not just your appointment, but also to ask your dentist any questions about your current and future treatment.
2) You may need antibiotics or temporary treatment
If your main reason for seeing the dentist after many years away is because you are in pain, think you have an infection or need emergency dental care, your dentist may need to first prescribe antibiotics or offer temporary treatment to make you comfortable. Once you’ve taken your course of antibiotics, you’ll schedule to come back to take care of the cause of infection or pain.
3) You will likely need dental x rays
Dental x-rays are one of the best ways to determine your current oral health, especially if you are in pain or suspect you have cavities. Dental x-rays will help the dentist determine the extent of work needed to restore you to your optimal oral health. Many insurances will cover a full set of dental x-rays once per year, so you might not even have to pay out of pocket for them.
4) Your gums may bleed
Even if you’ve practiced good oral hygiene habits in your time away from the dentist, you might notice that your gums bleed a bit more or are tender after your first cleaning. This is a normal side effect of a deep cleaning, and you should notice less bleeding and irritation within a day or two of your cleaning.
Your gums might also be bleeding because you have gum disease. Depending on the severity of the gum disease, you may be able to treat it at home, or you might need gum disease treatment from your dentist. Most mild to moderate gum disease, like gingivitis, is reversible. More severe cases can also be treated, it just may take more time or more visits to the dentist to restore your gums to their best health.
5) You may need more than one appointment
We’ve touched on this a bit already, but you may need more than one appointment to restore your teeth and gums to their best health. If you’re experiencing any pain in your teeth or gums, your dentist should be able to take steps to make you more comfortable in your first appointment (e.g. prescribing antibiotics). However, you will likely need to return for another appointment to treat the dental issue that’s causing you pain.
For example, if you need root canal treatment, your dentist will need to treat the infection in the root first before they can safely and effectively perform your root canal 7-10 days after you start your antibiotic. Or, if you have a more severe form of gum disease, you may need to come back for deep cleaning appointments every three months instead of every six months.
No matter the reason for your first trip to the dentist in so long, your dentist and their staff will make sure to take good care of you and put you at ease. You will not be the first patient in your situation, and most dental practices are skilled in helping patients just like you. Many practices offer ways to combat dental anxiety, like warm blankets, headphones or even dental sedation.
Don’t put off going to the dentist any longer! Call your dentist today and make an appointment. They will be happy to help you, and you may even find that going today means avoiding bigger problems tomorrow.
Remember: The above information is to be used as general guidelines and you should not use this information to diagnose yourself. If you are concerned about your teeth, you should contact our Clintonville, Ohio dentists for a thorough dental exam.
Professional Teeth Cleaning Exams in Columbus Ohio
We are proud to offer professional dentistry, teeth cleaning exams and tooth fillings to our patients in Central Ohio. If you haven’t been to the dentist in years, we want to help put you at ease and restore you to your best oral health. Contact us today to learn more!