Haven’t Been to the Dentists in Years? Here’s What to Expect

Gentle Dental

patient who hasn't been to the dentist in years

When modern life gets hectic, many people put off important issues that can come back to haunt them down the road. If you haven’t been to the dentist in years, it’s a great time to rededicate yourself to maintaining your oral health, so you can prevent tooth loss and other serious oral issues. Here’s what to expect when you find yourself in the dentist chair again.

Gum bleeding

When the dental hygienist begins flossing your teeth, your gums are likely to bleed. While this may be a bit unnerving, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have a problem. Many times, gums bleed when they are not used to the pressure of floss, as it moves between teeth. You can reduce the chances of bleeding by regularly flossing your own teeth at home.

Extended cleaning

If you haven’t been to the dentist in some time, you will probably have a significant amount of plaque on the surfaces of your teeth. For this reason, it may take some time for the hygienist to professionally clean each tooth.

Dental x-rays

Your dentist will need to take a series of x-rays to make sure there aren’t any underlying problems hidden out of sight. Hopefully, you will have old x-rays on file, which can help provide a comparison. If not, your dentist can use your new x-rays to create an oral health history to provide guidance future appointments.

Comprehensive oral examination

After the hygienist has thoroughly cleaned your teeth, your dentist will carefully inspect for cavities or signs of periodontal disease. He or she may also look for signs of oral cancer. If you haven’t been to the dentist in several years, there’s a good chance you may have one or two cavities that require attention.

An in-depth discussion about what’s next

Once your dentist has fully examined your teeth and gums, he or she will talk to you about the next steps. In some cases, this conversation may be limited to recommendations for maintaining good oral health. On the other hand, your dentist may need to recommend that you make a follow-up appointment for a filling or more complex procedure.

Before leaving the office, you should schedule a follow-up appointment in six months, even if you have no cavities. By getting bi-annual cleanings, you can reduce the risk of tooth loss and oral health problems, which can seriously impact your quality of life down the road.