If you've put off going to the dentist for several years because of a phobia or other reason, you should consider making an appointment as soon as you can even if you're not having problems with your teeth. Regular dental visits are important because early treatment can help you avoid toothaches, cavities, and gum disease. Here's what you might expect when you see your family dentist after a long delay.
X-Rays And An Examination
Your dentist may take x-rays on your first visit to assess the health of your teeth. X-rays show cavities that form between the teeth that are difficult to detect otherwise. X-rays also show the health of your bones and roots of your teeth. Besides x-rays, your dentist will visually inspect your mouth for signs of gum disease, cavities, and mouth sores. With the results of the examination, your dentist can recommend the treatments you need if any. Even if you have a toothache, you may not receive dental treatment on your first visit depending on your situation. Your dentist may want to start by cleaning your teeth first and then work on doing the fillings later.
If your teeth are in good shape, then all you may need is a dental cleaning to remove plaque and tartar. If you have evidence of gum disease, cleaning your teeth followed by proper oral care at home may be all you need to keep the gum disease from advancing. A dental hygienist usually does the cleaning with instruments that scrape off tartar. The tartar that builds up along the gums is what causes irritation and gum disease. This is why regular dental visits are important for your oral health.
If the dentist finds cavities during the examination, a treatment plan is devised to fill them to stop your toothaches or to prevent the cavities from getting bad enough to cause pain. Small cavities are usually easy to fill and the process is easy to endure. If your cavity is too big to fill, the dentist may need to cap your tooth with a crown instead. Large cavities often affect the health of the root of your tooth, and when this happens a root canal becomes necessary to clean out the infection. If you don't go to the dentist regularly, you have a greater risk of developing cavities that can advance to the point where you need a root canal and crown.
If you've put off having routine dental care because of dental anxiety, then talk to your dentist about treatments that might help. For instance, your dentist might have you breathe a gas that relaxes you but doesn't put you to sleep. Filling a small cavity or having a dental cleaning is much easier to endure than having a root canal and crown put on, so avoiding dental care is not a good choice, especially since your dentist can usually find a way to ease your anxieties.