Dental checkups are simple, routine, and one of the best things you can do to keep your teeth healthy besides your daily oral care routine. While every clinic is different, let’s take a look at some of the common things you can expect when it’s time for your checkup.

What Happens at a Dental Checkup?

It’s recommended that you see your dentist for a checkup twice a year, or every six months. Because tooth decay and other oral issues usually happen slowly and subtly, seeing a dentist allows a professional to ensure that your teeth are healthy—even in the places you can’t see or clean easily on your own.

When you arrive at your clinic, let the receptionist know that you’re there for your appointment. It’s best to arrive a few minutes early in case there are any forms you need to fill out or background information your dentist might request. It’s also here where you can verify your dental checkup cost and the status of your insurance. When it’s your turn to be seen, a trained dental assistant called a hygienist will show you to the examination chair. Some people might experience stress or anxiety before your appointment, but your hygienist will explain every part of the teeth cleaning process verbally so you know what to expect.

Teeth Cleaning

Your hygienist will begin by giving your teeth an in-depth cleaning. This usually contains a few different steps, starting with “scraping the tooth” with a small metal instrument to remove the plaque and tartar. Plaque and tartar are hard, sticky byproducts of harmful bacteria feeding on sugars in your teeth, and over time, can decay the enamel surface of your teeth. Scraping is painless and effective at removing tartar, although you may hear some noise as the metal instrument contacts your teeth.

After scraping, your hygienist will floss in between your teeth with either a simple length of floss or an instrument used to hold the floss. Flossing is important and should be performed every day at home, not just every six months at the dentist’s office. Finally, your hygienist will use a high-powered electric toothbrush and fine grit toothpaste to polish your teeth. This is different from the paste you use at home and should not be used more than twice per year, otherwise, it may damage your teeth by removing too much enamel.

Taking X-Ray Pictures of Your Mouth

At least once per year, it’s necessary to take radiographs (X-Rays) of your teeth to visualize the inner structures and see if there are any potential cavities or hairlines fractures that can’t be seen with the naked eye. During this procedure, you will be asked to bite down on a plastic shield that provides contrast for the image while your hygienist takes a set of images with a digital X-Ray machine. Thes images are kept in your file for your dentist to refer back to check on the progress of your treatment and overall health.

Examining the Teeth

After your cleaning and X-Rays, it’s time to meet the dentist! Your dentist will spend some time examining the state of your teeth after they have been cleaned and photographed and identify any potential decay or problem areas that might need specific treatment—like diagnosing cavities or the need for root canals.

Discuss Your Overall Oral Health and Habits

Finally, your dentist will discuss your oral health habits and daily care routine with you and may offer tips, recommend certain products, or better instruct you on techniques to keep your mouth healthy. It’s this knowledge and face-to-face communication with your dentist that is one of the most invaluable parts of your checkup, and it’s also your time to ask any questions about your health to a qualified professional whom you know personally. Think of it like a doctor’s appointment for your teeth!

How Long Do Dentist Appointments Take?

Seeing the dentist for a routine checkup is quick and easy, and an appointment should last around 30 minutes. However, if you have areas that need treatment or an especially intensive cleaning, it could take longer. One of the best things you can do for shorter appointments is practice preventive dentistry by sticking to your oral care routine at home.

If you need to see a dentist for a checkup in Reno, call Champagne Family Dentistry for an initial appointment! We offer quality dental services in South Meadows, and we’re accepting new patients now. Don’t wait, stick to your biannual checkup schedule at Champagne Family Dentistry.