Biannual dental check-up appointments are important for both oral health and general wellbeing. The examination is more than just checking the teeth surfaces – the dentist will examine your bite, tongue, gums, cheeks, jaw joints, neck, and lymph nodes. Every part of the oral cavity is important for oral health and physical health. Any sign…
4 Ways You Can Prepare for Your Dental Check-Up
Approximately one in 10 Americans has experienced some level of anxiety about going in for a dental check-up, ranging from mild worries to full-blown panic. Millions of people put off their check-ups for years or wait until their dental pain becomes too terrible to ignore before reluctantly scheduling an appointment.
Delaying dental visits may prevent anxiety for a while. Unfortunately, many end up with poor oral health that could have been prevented if it had been caught early on. If you are one of the countless people who fear the dentist, try these simple tips to ease your fears and have a less stressful check-up.
Four ways to prepare for a dental check-up
Maintain good hygiene habits
The sound of a dentist scraping tartar off sticky teeth can motivate people to improve their oral hygiene for a week or two after their appointment, but they might be tempted to skimp on brushing as the months continue. The key to quick, comfortable dental check-ups is creating healthy habits and being consistent with them before and after appointments. To impress your dentist, dedicate a few minutes a day for this routine:
- Floss once a day before brushing
- Brush for a full two minutes at least twice a day
- Brush gently and replace your toothbrush every three to four months
Write down questions and concerns
Creating a list of things to address before an appointment can significantly reduce anxiety. Some people might “go blank” when their dentist asks them if they have any questions, so having a physical list can be a reminder to speak up and take care of any worries. Those experiencing any of the following symptoms should bring it up to their dentist:
- Bleeding after brushing
- Tooth pain or sensitivity
- Teeth grinding
- Jaw clenching
- Trouble with flossing between certain teeth
Know what to expect
If it has been a while since visiting the dentist, fear of the unknown can cause anyone to be a bit nervous before a check-up. However, these types of appointments are routine for dentists and tend to be fairly quick and predictable. While some discomfort might occur at times, these appointments should not cause any pain for most patients. Typically, a dental check-up will consist of:
- Looking at teeth and gums to check for inflammation
- Checking your jaw and bite
- Cleaning off plaque and tartar with a scaler
- Brushing teeth with an electric brush
- Applying a fluoride treatment
- Taking X-rays (usually done once per year)
Practice relaxation techniques
Most dentists are aware that people can get uneasy or fearful at the dental office, so they will be more than willing to explain the procedure step by step or go slowly to accommodate their patients. Speaking up is the easiest way to relax during the check-up, but those who find themselves feeling nervous in the waiting room can try one of these strategies:
- Listen to calming music or an audiobook
- Practice deep-breathing exercises
- Bring in a book to enjoy
- Take part in a calming hobby, such as knitting or crocheting
- Ask a friend to accompany you to your appointment
The anticipation is often worse than the reality
It is normal to have some level of anxiety before any sort of appointment. Even those who do not consider themselves to be dental phobic might feel a little on edge before taking a seat in that infamous chair.
The important thing is that you understand that your dentist and hygienist is not there to scold you or make you feel bad about your teeth. Rather, they want to catch any dental issues you may have so you do not have to suffer even more in the long-term — physically, emotionally and financially. Moreover, they can teach you how to brush and floss most efficiently at home.
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