Your First Appointment
Firstly, thank you very much for making an appointment with us. The following describes a typical first appointment. It does not describe an appointment for relief of pain or broken tooth or restoration. For adult patients with a full dentition this appointment would take about one hour. Most often it will consist of a thorough examination, 2 x-rays, a scale and clean and fluoride treatment.
Please arrive 15 minutes early
The first part of the appointment starts at the front desk. You are asked to attend 15 minutes before your appointment time so you can fill out our dental questionnaire that includes your basic details and a brief medical history. This helps in quickly providing professional care. You may wish to discuss this in private and any information is confidential. If you have a complicated medical history or are taking a variety of medications it can be helpful to bring a list of these drugs or conditions. Many medical conditions and medications directly affect your teeth and mouth and dental treatment. Of course, your mouth is also where good health starts.
How we begin
When we begin the appointment the first part of the procedure is to ask you if you have any concerns with your teeth. This might include matters such as: pain, appearance, crowding, bad breath, sore jaw, mouth ulceration, bleeding gums, loose teeth, sensitivity, food impaction. What you describe are the symptoms and what we see are the signs. Signs are symptoms are the basis of a good diagnosis and with a good diagnosis good treatment can begin.
How we take extra care
We usually take 2 bitewing x-rays (one for each side of the mouth) These are typically taken for a new patient and every two years. If you have any recent x-rays, taken by another dentist, we can request them to avoid unnecessary radiation. These bitewing x-rays allow us to identify a number of conditions that we could not diagnose any other way. This includes decay between the teeth, decay under fillings and problems with the bone that supports the teeth (periodontal teeth). Bitewing x-rays do not show the roots of teeth so we may need to take other X-rays (Peri-apicals or OPGs).
We examine the teeth and their surrounding structures such as bone, gums, lips, tongue and mucosa. We also take intra oral photographs. There may also be other procedures, such as pulp tests, that we perform. Often all that is needed is a professional clean. Good dentistry is about preservation of tooth structure. If there is other work to be done the treatment, timing, costs, risks and alternatives will be discussed with you. Usually these treatments are done on another day.
Finishing up with a scale and clean
At this appointment we also give the teeth a thorough scale and clean. Occasionally the teeth may not need this (lucky you) or a more complicated cleaning plan may be needed (usually more advanced periodontal disease). To strengthen your teeth and to help with sensitivity a fluoride treatment is also undertaken. If you have a fluoride treatment it is more effective if you do not have anything to eat or drink for an hour.
This is an extremely brief summary of the procedures involved with the first appointment. It would be impossible to convey every possible manifestation that can occur but hopefully this provides an overview of what you can expect on the first appointment. Naturally, feel free to ask the dentist or receptionist about any questions or concerns you may have.