three dentists examining a patient's x-ray

If you have ever been nervous about going to a new dentist for the first time, don’t worry you are not alone. It’s common to be nervous when going to a new dentist for the first time. A great dental office expects that patients are a little anxious and will have processes in place to put you at ease.

One of the best ways to prevent anxiety from going to your dental visit, it to have a healthy oral hygiene practice. This means that everyday, in the morning and at night before you go to bed, you are brushing your teeth, and at least once a day, in the evening is best, you floss your teeth.

For a good explanation of a healthy oral hygiene practice, check out this article from the Mayo Clinic

If you have a consistent routine of cleaning your teeth and gums, then you are less likely to be worried when you go to your dental visit, because you are taking all the right precautions to have healthy teeth and prevent cavities, before you ever even step foot in the office.

The next best thing you can do to prevent yourself from getting nervous when you are going to the dentist is to make regular dental visits. For most people, this means going to the dentist twice a year. It’s best to get a cleaning every six months. The regularity of these visits is important because six months is not too long for something bad, like a cavity, to get out of control. The sooner you catch a cavity and the dentist can work to fix it, the better because the cavity simply has less time to spread and do damage.

The absolute best way to make sure that you stay on schedule with your dental visits is to make your next appointment for six months out, as you leave your dental appointment. This is important! Don’t wait to look at your schedule and call the office back to make an appointment, this seldom works. Why? Because we all get busy and forget to call the office back and schedule.

The next thing you know a year has gone by since you’ve had your teeth cleaned by experts. So the easiest way to avoid this is to just make the next appointment for six months out, with the receptionist or office manager, as you are paying your bill and on your way out.

Your First Visit to a New Dentist Office

If you are visiting a dentist for the first time as a new patient, you’ll need to give them information about your history. The office will have you fill out a New Patient Form. This will give them information like your dental history release of information, so they can contact your previous dentist and have access to your history, x-rays, and reports.

The New Patient packet will also give you stuff like financial policy info, Informed Consent notice, the patient’s financial agreement, as well as giving the office any medical history that is pertinent to your dental work. They will also want to get any dental insurance information from you, so be sure to plan and bring your paperwork or insurance card with you.

All this paperwork takes time to fill out.

Because of this paperwork, you will want to be sure to arrive 15-30 minutes earlier than you normally would. You do not want to be in a rush and this will give you ample time to fill out your personal information as well as ask the front desk about any questions. There is almost always one or two questions on these forms that you’ll need clarification from the office manager on how best to answer.

Some office will even let you fill out all of your medical, financial, and insurance forms ahead of time online.  If you would like to see a good example of an office that does this, then be sure to view the Digital Dentistry at Southpoint website.

During your exam with the hygienist, the main goal is to examine your current situation. Regular dental visits are all about preventative dentistry or finding problem areas and fixing or avoiding them before they become bigger problems.

The goal is to have healthy teeth with regular cleanings to prevent things like cavities, gum disease, enamel wear, gingivitis, and periodontitis. An ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure, as the saying goes. And any type of extensive dental procedure gets expensive quickly, not to mention painful. So the best way to avoid getting in this trouble is with preventative dentistry.

Your first appointment with a new dentist usually takes longer than normal, not only because of the initial paperwork but also because the dentist will have to take a new set of x-rays. This is a standard procedure for new patients.

X-rays are necessary because they can give the dentist insights into your teeth, gums, and jawbone that are impossible to see with the naked eye. X-rays will often be the first signs of weakness or decay in a tooth. Often a dentist will see a weak area on a tooth before it becomes a problem.

They will note this weak area in your office file and put a watch on it. This way they can either prevent areas of weakness in your tooth’s enamel from becoming a cavity, or they can address the cavity far sooner to prevent further decay.  To learn more about tooth enamel check out this blog post:

This is another reason why you’ll want to give yourself a little more time than usual on your first visit to a new dentist.

During your first visit, your dentist will also try to get to know you. Every patient is different and has a different medical history. The Doctor will ask you about any previous operations you have had. They may ask you about some of your preferences and if you have any pain or discomfort in your mouth, this is a good time to discuss.

These are some of the main considerations to take into account when planning to visit a new dentist for the first time. If you plan for your visit to take extra time and make sure that you have all the necessary paperwork and medical and insurance cards with you ahead of time, you’ll be sure to have the most pleasant office visit possible.