If your first visit to Growing Beautiful Smiles was for some purpose other than a New Patient Complete Dental Examination, then once that other bothersome issue is disposed of, a complete dental exam should become a priority.
Sometimes people ask us why this is necessary. Why not just attend to a problem when it occurs? There are at least two good reasons not to do that:
- By the time you notice a problem ( pain for example), it is probably more difficult (and expensive) to deal with than if it were discovered and dealt with much earlier. This is hardly a new concept; society has been aware that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure* for generations.
- The fact is that everything in your mouth (and beyond) relates to everything else. We need to have the most complete picture possible to provide care that makes the most sense possible. Suppose, for instance, that we discovered you had dental decay in need of repair and, based on that information and with your approval, we repaired several teeth. Now, let’s further suppose that you also had advanced gum disease but we hadn’t bothered to look for that. The result might be that we just repaired several teeth in March that fell out or became so loose they had to be removed in June.
What to Expect
This New Patient Complete Dental Examination is for information gathering.
We need to collect lots of information about you, and hope you will do the same about us, and that you will be curious about why we are doing what we are doing. Please ask questions.
We gather information about you and what your concerns, hopes, and expectations are. We will try to learn about your past experiences with your dental health and dental care. We will want to know about your general health and diet. What medications and nutritional supplements are you using? To what extent do you direct your lifestyle towards achieving and maintaining health?
We examine your head and neck and, of course, your mouth. We are looking for what is normal. If we don’t find that, we look more carefully. We are checking how muscles function and whether the tissues of the mouth are normal. Is there a reason to suspect cancer or another oral tissue disease? Of course, we check for gum disease and dental decay. Do the teeth function properly? Can the appearance of the teeth and smile be improved? Do you want it to be? What is the condition of existing dental repairs? All of this is documented. Xray information is taken into account.
Now That the Information is Gathered…
We need to
- make sense of it – form a diagnosis.
- decide what can be done about it – devise a treatment plan or plans.
- communicate all of that to you – explaining problems and solutions and the pros and cons of each.
- answer your questions.
- help you reach a decision.
Situations vary tremendously in their complexity. The spectrum can run from “Everything seems to be fine” to “You have a variety of problems and it’s going to take some time to plan how to deal with them. Additionally, we’ll need to have a specialist look at [condition x]. Further, I’ll need to contact your physician about [condition y] she is treating you for.”
What happens next?
If you need and want one, we might proceed directly to a cleaning at this same examination appointment.
If you need and want one, we might discourage you from proceeding directly to a cleaning at this same examination appointment. What? For Heavens’ sake, Why? Because the tissues are infected. See Item 9 here.
We might discuss treatment options right away, answer your questions and schedule appointments to begin necessary treatment.
When the situation is complex we probably will schedule another appointment for Consultation and Treatment Planning.