Dentist Questions General Dentistry

A huge gap in dental treatment. What should I expect?

I haven't really gone to the dentist since I was a kid, and now that I'm older I know I need to go and have at least a check up. Because I haven't gone in a while, is there anything that I should expect?

13 Answers

I would expect there to be a full exam. This entails usually a full series of xrays (20 single X-rays, pano of all dentition, and/or CBCT), charring, gum evaluation, and treatment plan formation. Let them know your chief complaint so that this can be addressed first.
You really won't know until you have the exam. It may be nothing at all. You have an idea of how bad things may be if you have broken teeth, bleeding gums, etc. So you shouldn't be surprised. The important thing is to get in there and have them look things over. Create a treatment plan to address your problems and start taking care of the problems until you have established good oral health.
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X-rays and a really good cleaning.
Just regular X-rays and a check-up, and then the dentist will give you a treatment plan of what you have.
Congratulations! The good news is that you have decided to go back to the dentist and have things checked out. I wouldn't worry too much about the fact that you had a gap in treatment. Most dentists are understanding and I would not expect a big deal to be made of this. In terms of what to expect, you may need more than one appointment to get your teeth cleaned because there probably will be a lot of hard deposits that would have accumulated. If you have cavities, the dentist will discuss these with you and plan for your subsequent treatment. Once you get your mouth back on track, remember to go back regularly for check-ups and cleanings.
Good luck!
Good day,

I advise you to go for a dental check-up. The dentist might advise you to do scaling and polishing (routine dental cleaning, advisable to do every 6 months). During the examination, the dentist might take small (localized section) and/or big (full mouth) X-rays to see if you have any tooth decay in between the teeth or other problems such as tooth impaction, etc.

Dental cleaning usually is painless, however, you might feel sensitivity in certain areas due to cold water.

Kind regards,

Dr. Chun-I Lee
Do not be surprised if the dentist tells you you need a deep cleaning, and possibly have a few decayed teeth.
Ask your friends/family/coworkers to refer you to a dentist that they trust. Do your own research and research reviews on local dentists. As you have not been in some time, you will want to feel comfortable that you are in great hands. Your dental team will review a medical and dental questionnaire with you to review any medical and dental history and concerns. You should expect that your dentist will do a thorough dental examination including a head and neck exam and oral cancer screening. Following this, your dentist will prescribe specifically based on your needs a set of records which will likely include necessary X-rays and likely a full set of diagnostic digital photographs. The photographs are an excellent tool to have as a baseline and also to communicate anything going on with you. The X-rays will be useful to look for cavities, infections, bone loss, excess tartar, etc. Based on the findings, your dentist will review with you your treatment options and pros and cons so that ultimately you can make the best choices for yourself. You can expect that there may be an excess of tartar build-up and that you may require at least a few (or more) sessions of professional cleanings to catch up with the years of missed cleanings and to bring your teeth and gums back to health. Only once all the records are collected and the exam is complete can your dentist have a better picture of what is going on and advise you further.
You will have a large build-up of tartar, which will make your gum tissue very sore after cleaning.

The minimum would be a complete oral exam including checking for decay, periodontal disease, and mobility of your teeth with a complete set of X-rays and/or Panorex X-ray. In addition, a detailed review of your medical/dental history, taking of your blood pressure, and an oral cancer exam. Then, a treatment plan can be developed. In my opinion, you should start with a specialist, preferably a periodontist as it is most likely you would have some form of periodontal disease and we are best to handle this and also do what can be done, including LANAP therapy, to save your teeth.


Bob Levine
Depending on how long it's been, you will be pleasantly surprised at all of the new technology your dentist has and how painless dentistry is now, a true reality!
They’ll take a few X-rays, the doctor will do an exam and explain his findings. It’s up to you if you want to at least do a cleaning that day or if there are any fillings or work to be done to be completed the same day, too.
Regular dental check-ups not only protect your teeth from serious dental problems, but are also beneficial to your overall health. Today's dental exams are more thorough than in the past. One big difference you will notice is the use of digital radiographs, 3D scanners that can create a 3D virtual picture of your teeth, and the use of other software programs to diagnose cavities from those digital images. One program is called logicon, which can help see decay between your teeth before it becomes a major problem. Another tool called diagnodent uses a laser to see decay in the pits and fissures of your back teeth. No more sticking with an explorer on your teeth. Overall modern equipment and our increased focus on prevention will help you avoid major dental problems.

Today, more than in the past, oral cancer screenings are important for early detection of tissue changes. We use a device called a Velscope, which can detect tissue dysplasias. A tissue dysplasia is an area were to the eye the tissue can look normal, while abnormal cellular changes are present. These areas appear different in color than other normal tissue when viewed through the velscope. Areas of dysplasia that remain chronically may become cancerous so early detection allows for minimally invasive treatment.

One other area of importance is periodontal health, that is the supporting tissue of your teeth; gums, bone around the teeth, and the periodontal ligament that holds your tooth in place. When plaque from food builds up around our teeth it creates a sticky substance called biofilm, which can harbor destructive bacteria and decrease your body's immunity to disease such as adult onset diabetes. There are many other systemic diseases that correlate to periodontal disease or as some of our patients say gum disease. Many people lose their teeth each year to periodontal infection.

A thorough periodontal evaluation and charting of periodontal pockets is an essential part of a comprehensive oral examination.

Dr. Joe Ferraro