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Your First Visit

The purpose of the first visit is to allow the doctor to complete a comprehensive examination and to address any of your needs and concerns. A thorough analysis of your oral health utilizes a visual exam, dental x-rays, models, intra-oral pictures (inside the mouth) and extra-oral pictures of your smile. It is important that you share your medical history with the doctor by providing complete, up-to-date information on your health.

Inform your dentist if you have experienced recent hospitalization or surgery, or if you have recently been ill. In addition, be sure to tell the doctor the names, doses, and frequency of any medications you are taking - whether prescription or over-the-counter products - and the name of your physician. Inform the doctor of any changes in your health or medications. It is also important to bring up any fears you may have about dental treatment.

The information collected in your first visit will help the doctor select the most safe and effective method of treatment for you.

Initially the dentist checks the history of your mouth, noting existing restorations and determining the presence of cavities and broken fillings or crowns. Dental decay may appear as a hole or sometimes as a dark shadow underneath the surface of the enamel. If there is a hole in a tooth the dentist may place a temporary filling to prevent food accumulation. Teeth that exhibit problematic sensitivity or ongoing pain may be pulp tested for root vitality.

The dentist will then check the gums and your general oral hygiene to ensure that there are no hidden problems. A special probe is used to test the depth of the pockets around your teeth in order to detect gum disease early.

Finally the soft tissues are checked for ulcerations or other lesions. As part of a comprehensive examination, your dentist will perform an oral cancer screening. While oral cancer is rare, it can be a deadly disease. Early detection can mean the difference between life and death. The dentist may also check your jaw and associated muscles.

Even if the patient has brought along x-rays, it is our office policy to take a complete set of digital radiographs to ensure a thorough checkup. A visual exam only gives us half the picture and x-rays are necessary for a number of reasons including, but not limited to -

· Looking for hidden cavities, dental abscesses and the presence of cysts
· Determining the amount of bone loss, gum disease and the presence of tumors
· Determining the condition of root canal treatment and root fractures
· Determining the presence of impacted teeth
· Ascertaining the condition of dental restorations - existing fillings, crowns and veneers
· Determining the health of the sinuses

Once your examination and cleaning have been performed, your dentist will tell you about the health of your teeth and gums and make any additional recommendations. By seeing your dentist on a regular basis and following daily good oral hygiene practices at home, you are more likely to keep your teeth and gums healthy.