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Dental Checkup and Examination

The dental visit, most people enjoy it but others dread it. Here's an overview of the two most common types of dental visits: a dental checkup and a comprehensive dental examination.

As a preventative measure, twice a year you should schedule an appointment for a routine check-up. During this visit, the dentist will examine your teeth for signs of decay and other potential dental issues. That way, if problems are discovered, the dentist can take measures before those problems become worse.

During your check-up your teeth will get a deep cleaning and the dentist will use a special tool to remove tartar build-up. Your teeth will also get a polishing and an extra strength fluoride treatment. The dentist might also take a few x-rays.

If you've never been to the dentist before or if you are visiting a new dentist for the first time, the dentist likely will perform a comprehensive dental exam. Such an examination is a good way for the dentist to get to know you, your overall state of health and the particulars of your dental health.

During this visit, a thorough examination will take place. The dentist will take a set of full mouth x-rays. These will stay on file and will also help identify abnormalities. In addition to a comprehensive evaluation of your teeth the dentist will look closely at your gums and other soft tissue inside your mouth. Redness or puffiness might indicate gum disease.

The dentist will also look at your face, neck and chin for swelling and other abnormalities. He or she will also feel your saliva glands and lymph nodes for the same purpose. You'll be asked to open and close your mouth and to move it from one side to another. The reason for this is to make sure the temporomandibular joint is properly gliding your jaw as you move your mouth. The dentist will check your bite to ensure your teeth are in proper alignment.

The dentist will also want to know about any prescription medications you currently are taking. Either bring your bottles along or write everything down, including the dosage so your dentist can record this in your file. The dentist also will want to make note of any illnesses or diseases you have as some will have an impact on your teeth.

After either type of appointment, the dentist or dental hygienist will discuss with you ways you can improve your dental hygiene routine. He or she will also discuss any further treatments deemed necessary as a result of the examination.

Overcoming Dentist Fear

Why is it that so many people become scared at the thought of going to the dentist? Some degree of fear is understandable, but when that fear turns into dread, a person might actually have a phobia.

When people put off going to the dentist because they are so afraid of what may or may not happen their teeth are at significantly increased risk of developing decay. Left untreated, tooth decay can damage not only the tooth but the underlying roots and gums. If gingivitis develops and isn't treated, it can develop into periodontis, gum disease that can become so bad that the gums and underlying bone structure are no longer capable of holding teeth in place.

If you feel stressed or tense before your dental appointment, worrying excessively and even losing sleep, or if you become sick to your stomach while waiting in the dentist's office or while looking at the assortment of instruments or the staff in their white lab coats, you might benefit from knowing how to overcome this type of fear.

Fear is a common emotion and almost everyone fears something whether it's spiders or flying or standing before a large crowd. Therefore, understand that fear isn't something to hide or feel embarrassed about. Instead, admit you're afraid because there are tools that can help alleviate this fear.

Communication is one of the best tools there is for overcoming your fear of the dental visit. Modern dentistry has advanced to the point where many of the procedures are performed without pain. This is important to know and your dentist can explain what's going to happen inside your mouth in precise detail, if your dentist realizes that such communication will help alleviate your fears.

Knowing what's happening may make you feel more in control of the situation. Another way to feel more in control is to agree upon a hand signal you can give the moment you want the dentist to stop. Communicating with someone else's hands inside your mouth is difficult so a hand signal can definitely help.

Also available at the dentist's office are different pain medications and numbing creams that you can be given. The options range from localized topical numbing creams to anesthesia to sedation. If you can't relax because you're worried about feeling pain, then let the dentist do something so that you won't feel it.

There are also various techniques to help you relax that you can employ. You can distract yourself by listening to music, watching television or daydreaming. A technique called guided imagery helps you create in great detail an image of a more pleasant environment. A dental assistant can help you create this image by suggesting situations which you then visualize. You'll be so busy creating the perfect mental image that you might even forget that your teeth are being worked on!

For intense dental phobia, consider finding a dentist that practices hypnosis or acupuncture. And if your fear is so bad that you can't even make a dental appointment, you might benefit from therapy or participation in a support group.