What to Expect From Your First Dental Appointment in Years

Perhaps you let your fear get the better of you; or maybe your finances were such that going to the dentist just wasn’t a priority. No matter what your reasoning might have been, if its come to your attention that a visit to the dentist is long overdue, then it’s important that you break the avoidance cycle in favor of taking care of your health.

If it has been a truly long time since you last saw a dentist, then you’re likely to be a bit apprehensive as you gear up for your appointment. Dr. Joseph Pizzarello is a dentist at Pizzarello and Silvestro Family Dentistry, a practice that has been serving the Stoneham, Massachusetts area since 1995, and he agrees that a person’s first dental appointment in years can be a bit overwhelming. He therefore offers the following suggestions to those about to take this very important step:

Prepare yourself for a thorough exam
If you haven’t been to the dentist for quite some time, then you should expect your upcoming exam to be fairly thorough. Your dentist will probably want to take x-rays and inspect your mouth accordingly. Therefore, don’t be surprised if your visit isn’t one of those quick “in and out” appointments. Remember, a regular dental cleaning can take some time depending on the extent of plaque buildup involved; so if you’ve missed your last 12 scheduled cleanings, then your hygienist is going to have to compensate for your lack of cleanings.

Anticipate some problems
While there’s no need to put yourself through the torture of picturing the worst case dental scenario in your head, it is a good idea to be realistic about your upcoming appointment. If you haven’t been to the dentist’s office in years, then assume that you’ll probably have to deal with some type of tooth decay. This way, you’ll be less upset on the spot and might react more calmly when your dentist informs you of such. Of course, if you’re extremely lucky, then you might end up being pleasantly surprised to learn that your problems aren’t as bad as you expected them to be; but don’t fool yourself into thinking beforehand that this is definitely going to be the case.

Set some money aside for the bill
Your first dental visit in years is likely to bring about some follow-up treatments that may or may not cost you a fair amount of money, depending the insurance coverage you have. To play it safe, once you schedule your appointment, try to set some money aside to cover whatever potential procedures you might need, regardless of whether you have insurance or not (or at least prepare yourself mentally for the possibility of having to come up with some cash).

Your first dental appointment in a long time is likely to make you feel anxious, so the more comfortable you feel with your dentist, the less angst you’re likely to have. If you don’t have a dentist of your own, then it’s a good idea to look to friends, colleagues, and neighbors for their recommendations. Don’t necessarily choose someone just because he happens to be part of your insurance network – the fact that your policy will pay most of his fees doesn’t mean that he’s a good dentist. Instead, rely on the word of mouth from people you can actually trust. Remember, it’s bad enough that you skimped on dental care for a good part of your adult life, and the last thing you’ll want to do is perpetuate the problem by going to a less-than-stellar dentist and having him scare you into never returning. By choosing the right dentist for your first appointment in years, you can do your part to get back into an oral care routine that will keep your mouth healthy in the long run.

*Disclaimer: The information on this website is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your healthcare provider. We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with an appropriate healthcare provider.

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