Whether you have a fear of going to the dentist, spent a few years without dental insurance, or simply procrastinated, when you haven't been to the dentist in years it can be scary to make that initial appointment. It's important to keep in mind that no matter how long you've gone in between cleanings, your dentist has probably seen much worse and will simply be happy you've finally come in. The sooner you make that appointment, the sooner you can have any potential issues diagnosed.
Here are five tips for going to the local dentist after a long absence:
Expect a Little More Up-Front Dental Work
When you haven't had your teeth professionally cleaned in a long time, your initial appointment may be more time-consuming than what you've experienced in the past and your dentist may decide to break your cleaning up into a couple of appointments. Depending on the state of your teeth, you may need fillings or have gum inflammation (caused when untreated plaque spreads to the gums) that requires a deep cleaning.
There is no need to be intimidated by this: instead, just go to your appointment prepared to spend a bit of extra time getting your teeth back in great shape. Once your up-front dental needs are taken care of, you will be able to maintain your newfound oral health with easy regular cleanings.
Consider Looking for a Sedation Dentist
If you've avoided the dentist out of fear and anxiety, it can be worthwhile to look for a sedation dentistry office in your city. Sedation dentists will offer safe sedation to calm you down or even allow you to sleep peacefully during your exam, check-up and any needed dental procedures. They are specifically trained in helping fearful patients.
Communicate Your Worries When You Make Your Appointment
If your new dentist knows you haven't been to the dentist in quite a while and are feeling a little nervous, they will be able to better accommodate you. Your dentist will also be able to schedule your appointment to include extra time for your exam in case it's necessary. If you're not comfortable discussing your situation over the phone, look for an email address for your dentist office and send them a quick, polite note before your appointment explaining that you haven't been to the dentist in a long time and are feeling anxious.
Read Reviews and Focus on Bedside Manner
When looking for a new dentist, be sure to spend time reading through reviews from current patients. Focus on dentists who earn great reviews on their bedside manner and customer service. Some dentists may be technically proficient in dentistry but abrupt or cold with patients, which will only make you feel even more uncomfortable and anxious. Instead, find a dentist office where the entire staff makes you feel welcome and safe.
Give Yourself Plenty of Time on Appointment Day
Since it's been so long since your last dentist appointment, do everything you can to make appointment day stress-free and easy. Take a half day (or even a full day if you are able) off from work if possible, and leave for the dentist early. This way if you get stuck in traffic or it takes a while to find parking, you will still have enough time and your stress level won't get higher than necessary. Reward yourself after your appointment with a relaxing evening, perhaps planning to rent a movie, go to yoga, or take a hot bath.
By following these tips and making an appointment for a check-up and cleaning you are doing something great for your teeth and your overall health.