The Young Adult's Guide To The First Solo General Dentistry Exam

What should you expect from your first visit to a new general dentistry practice? Perhaps you're a young adult who is ready to go from a pediatric practice to a general dental office. If this is your first experience with a solo checkup and cleaning, take a look at what you need to know about a new patient dental visit.

What Will You Need To Bring With You?

Do you have dental insurance? Whether you're still on your parent's plan, have purchased your own insurance, or have employer-sponsored coverage, you will need to bring your card or (if you don't have a card) other insurance information. If you aren't the primary policyholder, you may need that person's birth date and social security number.

Along with your insurance card, you may also need to bring identification and completed new patient forms. Each dental practice has its own forms for patients. Typical information that new patients need to provide includes name, birth date, address, medical history, medications you take (prescription, over-the-counter, and supplements or vitamins), past dental surgeries, or past dental conditions/diseases. 

If your insurance company requires a copayment or you don't have insurance, talk to the dental office staff about when you will need to pay your bill. Some offices require payment on the same day of service.

What Will the Exam Include?

As a new patient, the dentist won't have a baseline to work from. Past dental records and X-rays can help your new dentist to better understand your mouth and its history.

After the dentist reviews your records (if you have these documents) and takes a history, they will examine your mouth. This may include a visual and manual inspection of the teeth, gums, inside of the mouth, tongue, jaw, and neck areas. You may also need a set of X-rays.

Why Would You Need Dental X-Rays?

X-rays can help the dentist to see under fillings/restorations, inside of your teeth, and under the gumline. These images provide the dentist with a full picture of your dental health and can help them to find and diagnose areas of decay.

Will You Need A Cleaning?

Routine in-office care includes more than just an exam. You will also need a professional-level cleaning service. The hygienist will assess your oral care needs and use a small instrument known as a scaler to remove sticky plaque from around the gum line and in between your teeth. The hygienist will also clean your teeth with a high-powered brush and a gritty-feeling paste. Some patients may also need a preventative or protective fluoride treatment.