What to expect at a dental check-up

20 Mar What to expect at a dental check-up

Many people feel anxious about visiting the dentist as they are unsure what will happen to them once they get in the dentist’s chair. To help put your mind at ease we have answered some of the questions we are most frequently asked about dental check-ups. 

Why do I need a dental check-up?

A dental check-up is important as it helps you keep your mouth and teeth healthy. During your check-up your dentist will be able to see if you have any dental problems and advise on how best to treat them. Early identification and treatment of any problems will prevent them escalating and becoming harder to treat.

What happens during a dental check-up?

If you are visiting a dentist for the first time you will be asked to complete a medical history questionnaire before seeing the dentist.

During your dental check-up, your dentist will:

  • Examine your teeth, gums and mouth to evaluate your overall health, oral hygiene and your risk of tooth decay, root decay, and gum or bone disease.
  • Check your bite and jaw for problems.
  • Look for any signs of oral cancer by feeling the area under your jaw, the sides of your neck, and the insides of your lips and cheeks, as well as examining your tongue and the roof and floor of your mouth.
  • Remove any stains or deposits on your teeth.
  • Ask you about your general health and any problems you’ve had with your teeth, mouth or gums since your last visit.
  • Ask about, and give you advice on, your diet, smoking and alcohol use, and teeth-cleaning habits.

If you have prosthetic replacements such as dentures and bridges your dentist will also check how well they fit and discuss with you the need for adjustments.

Will I need a dental x-ray?

X-rays are an important part of any dental examination to help diagnose any problems under the surface or around the foundations of the teeth. It is unlikely that you will need an x-ray every time you have a check-up but if this is your first appointment then your dentist will advise x-rays.

X-rays are usually taken by having you bite on a small tab which steadies the x-ray film in your mouth while your dentist positions the x-ray beam so that they can take the picture.

Will I receive any treatment at a dental check-up?

Your dentist will not normally carry out any treatment during a routine check-up. At the end of your check-up your dentist will discuss with you any treatment that is required and you will be asked to book a follow up appointment for the actual treatment.

How often should I have a dental check-up?

After your check-up, your dentist will recommend a date for your next visit. The time to your next check-up could be as short as three months or as long as two years (or up to one year if you’re under 18).

People with good oral health will probably need to attend only once every 12 to 24 months, but those with more problems will need check-ups more often.