Bozart Family Dentistry Tip of the Week: Haven't been to the Dentist in a while? Here's what to Expect

By / Health and Wellness / Tuesday, 04 April 2017 04:00

If you have not seen your dentist for a few years, you may feel reluctant to go in for a check up for fear that either the cleaning will hurt, that several cavities may be found, or even something potentially worse due to your lack of recent dental care. Us dentists recognize that you most likely have many valid reasons for why you’ve stayed away from us for a number of years. Maybe you were laid off or lacked insurance. Perhaps you were in-between doctors and time just got away from you. Many pregnant women avoid the dentist as well because their gums are more sensitive and more likely to bleed during pregnancy. Regardless of your reasons, we understand that it happens, and it's our goal to help get your dental health back on track! So please don’t feel embarrassed to let us know that it’s been a few years. We won’t judge, we only want to help to ensure that you’ll be back next time.
Going in for a teeth cleaning after taking a break for several years does mean that your check up will go differently than if you had more regular check ups. Depending on how much time you’ve missed depends on how extensive the process needs to be. Here's what to expect (in general) from your first cleaning back.
A Longer Visit = The first cleaning after a dental hiatus will take longer than an average appointment. More plaque deposits will have built up on your teeth, you will likely need X-rays and the dentist may want to spend more time with you than usual. Plan ahead for your day and don't schedule anything else after your appointment that you can't cancel. You don't want to feel the pressure of running late for your next obligation while you also feel stressed about your cleaning.
Expect Some Discomfort - After so many years away from the dental chair, a great deal of plaque will have built up on your teeth. Your hygienist will have to take extra time to remove these plaque deposits. This focused action could irritate and inflame your gums causing some discomfort for a few days. It could even cause your gums to bleed slightly during the exam. Most of the time, cleanings don't cause pain, just some mild soreness that will go away within a day or so.
Cavities - You run a good chance of having at least one cavity if you have taken some time off from the dentist. I like to tell patients that cavities are nothing to fear. Most people get several in their lifetime and getting a filling doesn't take that much time or cause too much pain. I also remind people that letting a cavity go untreated can actually cause more problems and lead to more serious procedures like root canals or tooth extraction.
A Few Good Reminders - Your hygienist will probably take some time to talk with you about maintaining proper oral health. This could include talking about brushing, flossing and avoiding certain foods and drinks that rot your teeth faster than others. Most dental professionals recommend having your teeth cleaned twice a year. This minimizes the amount of time you spend at each cleaning and helps your dentist catch any major problems like gum disease or oral cancer early enough to successfully treat them.
Many people see going to the dentist as an abhorrent experience and one to avoid at all costs. But teeth need care just like any other parts of our body. If we let our oral health decline, we will actually invite larger health problems in long term. So while going to the dental office may not be your favorite thing, make an appointment before another six months goes by. Your smile and pocket book will thank you!
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