Your First Visit
Your first visit will be with one of our dentists, either to examine a specific area of concern (eg. a broken tooth), or for a Comprehensive Oral Examination. Children or teens may be booked with the hygienist to get their teeth cleaned at the same time. We encourage that you bring your child in for their first “dental screening” within 6 months of getting their first tooth (as advised by the Canadian Dental Association).
In order to provide you with the best and safest care possible, it is important for you to fill out a health history questionnaire for yourself and each of your family members. You can download all forms from the New Patient Forms page. If you are unsure about your medical conditions, bring with you any medication bottles or prescriptions and the name and contact information of your medical doctor and/or medical specialist and pharmacist.
What is a Comprehensive Oral Examination?
A Comprehensive Oral Examination is done for all of our patients every 3 – 5 years. It is similar to the medical physical done yearly by your MD, except that it focuses on the tissues around and inside the mouth. This thorough examination enables your dentist to provide you with the best professional advice about your dental and oral health. In additon, by law, dentists are required to keep extremely accurate records of all their patients.
This examination may take anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the state of your oral health and your dental needs. Your dentist will listen to all of your concerns and goals for your oral health, and will address them during or at the end of your exam. You will discuss your current and past medical and dental history, and then your dentist will perform a thorough examination.
The examination has four main components: extraoral (including muscles and skin on your face and neck, lymph nodes, glands, and jaw joints), intraoral soft tissues (including the appearance and texture of the roof and floor of the mouth, tongue, inside of the cheeks, throat, inside of the lips), hard tissues (everything to do with your teeth: missing teeth, broken teeth, alignment, your bite, state of your fillings, cavities, etc.), and your gums and underlying bone. Your dentist will also assess any esthetic concerns you may have.
Depending on what your dentist finds during your clinical examination, and taking into account your dental history, xrays may be taken to assess your teeth and underlying bone (eg. to see if there are cavities between your teeth, or if you have lost bone due to periodontal disease). Xrays are prescribed by the dentist and are not just done as a routine – they are only taken when needed and the fewest xrays possible are taken. This means that different patients will get xrays at different frequencies, and different xrays depending on their needs. Photographs and dental molds may be taken, as well as other tests.
At this time, the dentist may discuss the results of your examination, diagnoses, and treatment options, or may have you back another day if your case is more complex. Questions and discussion are encouraged so that you are clear about the state of your oral health and what your options are to reach your dental goals.
“Why do I need to see the dentist first, if all I want is my teeth cleaned?
Dental cleanings are a mode of dental treatment. They are not the same for every patient, though the misconception exists that they are. Your dentist will need to examine you to make sure that there are no health concerns impeding you from this therapy, and to determine what type of cleaning is best for you. For example: if you are on specific doses of blood thinners, a deep cleaning may not be advisable until your condition is discussed with your MD and proper precautions are taken, or else you may experience uncontrollable bleeding. As well, if you have had specific surgeries, you may need to take antibiotics before any type of cleaning. If you have a severe bacterial infection of your gums, you may need several sessions to get your teeth cleaned, and may even need a prescription mouth wash or antibiotics. We care about your overall health, and seeing the dentist first when you join our practice ensures that we provide you with the safest and best care for you.
Why should I bring my baby to the dentist by age 1 if they only have a couple of baby teeth?
The Canadian Dental Association recommends that you have a dentist asses your baby’s oral health within 6 months of the eruption of the first baby tooth, and no later than the age of 1. The goal is to catch problems early, and to provide tips to moms and dads and other caregivers on the effect of diet on baby teeth, and how to best take care of them. Ask our team about our “baby dental screenings.” We provide this dental service to our patients at no charge.
Dental examinations – regular checkups
We encourage regular checkups for individuals from age 2 and up. The frequency of dental check ups can vary from 6 months to once a year, depending on your dental history and needs. NOTE: Even though regular check ups are generally done at the same time as your cleaning, they will not be done each time you get your teeth cleaned if you are on a 3 month or 4 month cleaning frequency.
Regular dental examinations are needed in order to:
- Check for problems that you might not see or feel
- Find early signs of decay
- Treat oral health problems early, while they are still manageable
The dentist will check the health of your mouth, teeth, gums, cheeks, and tongue, and will check your existing fillings and restorations because constant pressure from chewing, grinding, or clenching can cause them to wear away, chip, or crack. Typically, the examination part will take about 5 minutes, while the cleaning part by the hygienist can take anywhere from 30 minutes and up depending on how much tartar and plaque is on your teeth.
Even if you take good care of your teeth at home, regular dental exams are needed because there are many oral health conditions that only your dentist is trained to detect and evaluate.
Ten oral health problems your dentist can see that you can’t:
- Deterioration in fillings, crowns and other restorations.
- Root cavities — decay on roots of teeth exposed by receding gums.
- Periodontal pockets caused by gum disease.
- New decay under the gumline.
- Cavities under existing fillings or between your teeth.
- Hairline tooth fractures.
- Impacted wisdom teeth.
- Early signs of gum disease.
- Early signs of oral cancer.
- Signs of other problems that could affect your general health.