New Patient Dental Exam: What You Need to Know

Aug 11, 2021

Looking for a new dentist? Some people are anxious about starting the process. That’s why we take the mystery out of the process by explaining what to expect during your new patient dental exam!

As a new patient, we want to make sure we know all about you and your teeth! That’s why our comprehensive exam includes a full set of digital x-rays, periodontal charting, and scheduling a cleaning that meets your needs. It typically takes one hour for this appointment. 

We start each new patient dental exam with x-rays so our dental team can diagnose any problems in your teeth and jaws. In adults, x-rays can show decay, especially small areas of decay between teeth. It also helps determine if there’s decay beneath existing fillings. 

Next, one of our dentists or hygienists will do some periodontal charting. This is a way of measuring the space between a tooth and the gum tissue next to it. A dentist or dental hygienist uses an instrument called a probe and gently inserts it into this space. Then we make a note in your chart, highlighting any areas of concern. 

Based on the information collected from the x-rays and periodontal charting, our team will determine the best cleaning. We can typically schedule the cleaning to take place during the initial appointment, or if it’s a more extensive cleaning we can schedule that out. 

There are a few different types of cleaning that you may need, depending on the condition of your teeth, gums, and mouth. 

If everything looks healthy, you will just need a “basic cleaning.” In dental terms, this is called a “prophylactic cleaning,” which means you come in every 6 months for a cleaning to prevent issues. Think of it like a well-check with your doctor. 

If there are some signs of inflammation in your gums or potential gum diseases, you will need a “full mouth debridement.” This is a cleaning and dental calculus removal in the presence of inflammation but absent any bone loss. 

Dental calculus is calcified dental plaque. The process of calculus removal is known as debridement. In this process, our dentist uses an ultrasonic device or a hand-held scaling tool. The ultrasonic instrument uses high-frequency vibrations along with water to remove the calculus.

If you have bone loss or pockets, you will need a deep cleaning with scaling and root planning (SRP). Because these cleanings are much more intensive, we break this treatment into two sessions. One session to clean two quadrants (half the mouth) and a second to address the other two quadrants. 

We cannot stress enough the importance of regular dental cleanings to keep your teeth, gums, and mouth healthy. If you haven’t seen a dentist in a while, don’t hesitate and don’t fear! Our experienced team will take great care of you. Schedule an appointment today to get started on your new patient dental exam. We look forward to seeing you!