What to Expect at Your Next Dental Visit
Visiting the dentist regularly is one of the most important things you can do to keep your teeth healthy. Yet a lot of people don’t do it or only go rarely because they’re afraid or intimidated by the experience. We’re here to tell you: Don’t be. The amount of pain and money you’ll save yourself by making a habit of seeing the dentist outweighs a lot of common fears.
To put you at ease with some of what you might be anxious about, we’ve summarized what you can expect during some of the most common reasons for visiting the dentist:
The first part of your visit is for a dentist or dental hygienist to do a quick visual examination of your teeth. They’re experts and can spot things you may miss. This part may involve a small mirror and pick being inserted into your mouth, and is virtually painless for most people.
A hygienist will clean your teeth next. This person will remove plaque and calculus off your teeth with an instrument called a scaler, and then polish your teeth with a paste and motorized polishing brush.
Lastly, you may receive a fluoride treatment, but this isn’t always the case. Your dental professional will advise you if this service is necessary to meet your specific oral health goals.
To see the roots of your teeth and stamp out problems before they become, well, problems, your dentist will order x-rays. You’ll first have a lead-lined cover or blanket placed over your body to minimize radiation exposure. (Don’t worry-the amount of radiation emitted by dental x-ray devices is about the same as what you’d experience if you were flying in an airplane.) Next, you’ll have special film inserted into your mouth. The technician will leave the room to capture the image, and after a few pictures taken from a few areas in your mouth you’re done!
If you brush and floss regularly, you hopefully won’t need a filling any time soon. Still, a lot of people end up needing a filling at one point or another.
What happens will vary a lot depending on your specific case, but generally, your dentist will numb the area before the procedure starts. After that, the dentist will need to remove the diseased area with a high-speed drill. It may sound extreme, but remember, this is a small space the dentist is working in, and these are precision instruments-“drill” doesn’t mean anything like what you’d see in your garage, for instance.
Next steps after that depend on what kind of filling you’re getting. Sometimes, if a white filling (composite filling) is placed, it may be necessary for the dentist to paint the area with an adhesive to ensure that the filling will last a long time. The dentist will also need to shape the filling to replace the shape of your tooth properly.