Proper oral health can positively contribute to your mental, physical and social well-being. It may allow you to eat, speak and socialize without discomfort, pain or embarrassment. Maintaining healthy teeth and gums with proper oral care is a lifelong commitment. Eating nutritious foods, brushing and flossing and having routine dental visits are all vital parts of your ongoing oral care to keep your teeth and gums healthy.
Whether it’s your first visit or you’ve been going to your dentist regularly for many years, a comprehensive examination, thorough cleaning and follow-up check-ups can help keep your gums and teeth healthier and your mouth feeling fresh. Preparing for a visit with the dentist is almost as essential as showing up. Below are some steps to follow to ensure your dental appointment goes as smoothly as possible.
What to Do Before Going to the Dentist for a Cleaning
Are you unsure how to prepare for a dentist appointment? Here are some tips to help.
1. Choose a Trustworthy Dentist
The dentist you choose should have excellent communication skills and be competent in managing any anxiety you may feel. Dentists who maintain an open line of communication can reinforce your confidence and help you establish a long-term patient-dentist relationship.
2. Confirm Your Dental Appointment
Call the dental office a day before your appointment to confirm the time if the office hasn’t already called you. You don’t want to show up to your appointment a few hours early — and you don’t want to show up late.
3. Provide your Dentist With Your Dental History
Make sure you provide your dentist with access to your dental records. If this is your first visit, this may mean contacting a prior dental office to have your dental history records transferred.
4. Bring Your Payment and Insurance Information
You’re either going to have the dentist bill your insurance provider or send you the bill, so be sure you have this information with you at your appointment.
5. Provide Your Dentist With a List of All Medications and Doses
It’s crucial your dentist knows what medications you’re taking and the exact dosage. Bring along your medications or write the names of each down, along with the dosage and how often you’re taking them.
6. Sleep Well the Night Before
Giving your brain enough time to rest can help dispel anxiety and calm your nerves. A lack of sleep could affect your cognitive ability in terms of creativity, problem-solving and judgment. Good sleep can help invigorate your body, setting you in a good mood.
7. Ask Your Dentist If You Should Clean Your Mouth Beforehand
Because each dentist has their preferences of whether or not they would like to work on a clean mouth (you’ll see why below), you should ask beforehand if you should brush and floss your teeth before your appointment.
8. Arrive a Little Early
If you’re a new patient, you’ll likely need to fill out some paperwork. Even if you’re not, it’s still a good idea to show up a little early to your appointment so you’re not rushing. Feeling hurried can feed your anxiety.
9. Write Down All Questions or Concerns
Part of how to prepare for a dental check-up is writing down all questions and concerns you have so you can go over them with the dentist before your appointment. Having your concerns and questions addressed can help ease any fear or anxiety you have and prepare you better for what’s to come.
10. Avoid Caffeine Before Your Visit
It’s probably not a good idea to be jittery while you’re sitting in the dentist’s chair. Too much caffeine can cause that to happen, and this could make it harder for the dentist to work on your teeth properly.
11. Let Your Dentist Know If You’re Anxious
The dentist can help ease any dental anxiety or fear you have. Your dentist has different ways of doing this, such as sedatives, TV, music and earphones and other ways. Sometimes, just sitting down with the dentist and having them go over what the visit entails is enough to calm the nerves.
12. Be Open and Honest With the Dentist
While this could be embarrassing, it’s necessary. Always be honest with your dentist about your oral hygiene habits and what’s going on with your mouth. For the best check-up possible, the dentist needs to know about hygiene, pain and other concerns.
13. Bring Along Your Oral Appliance
Many dental offices provide sleep apnea treatment that involves wearing an appliance during the night to help keep your airway open. Additionally, some individuals wear retainers after they’ve had orthodontic work. Others wear mouth guards to avoid clenching and grinding.
If you wear an oral appliance, no matter for what reason, make sure you bring it with you to your dental appointment so your dentist can give it a good scrub as well. These devices do form tartar, just like with teeth. Your dentist could put your appliance in an ultrasonic cleaning device so it will be ready when your appointment is over.
14. Consult With the Dentist
Sit down with your dentist to discuss your upcoming dental procedure, if you’re not simply having a routine check-up. Find out how long the procedure will last, if there are any pre- or post-operative guidelines you’ll need to follow and if you should bring someone along with you to your appointment.
15. Schedule an Appointment for Your Next Check-up
Before you leave the office, schedule your next check-up or cleaning and ask to be sent a reminder. This will ensure you keep up on your routine visits.
Dental anxiety, fear and phobia are pervasive. Individuals with dental fear or anxiety can experience a sense of uneasiness when their appointment comes around. They’ll experience unfounded or exaggerated fears or worries.
Causes of Dental Fear and Anxiety
You may develop dental fear and anxiety for various reasons. During an interview, researchers talked with patients about their dental anxieties and fears. There were a couple of common reasons, which were:
- Embarrassment: Many individuals feel embarrassed or even ashamed of their mouth and how their teeth look. They are self-conscious about the dentist looking inside. During a treatment, the dentist’s or hygienist’s face could be only a few inches away, and this can make people uncomfortable and anxious.
- Feelings of loss of control and helplessness: When sitting in a dental chair, people have to sit still. They can’t see what the dentist is doing or predict if something’s going to hurt. Because of this, it’s common for individuals to feel out of control or helpless, which could trigger anxiety.
How Can I Calm My Nerves Before Going to the Dentist?
Fortunately, you have some ways to calm your dental anxiety and fear, including these ideas:
- Share how you’re feeling. If you’re anxious or tense, let your dentist know. Expressing your worries and concerns can help your dentist adjust the treatment for your needs.
- Breathe slowly and regularly during your procedure. If you’re nervous, it could cause you to hold your breath, which reduces your oxygen level and further increases your feelings of anxiety and panic. Focusing on regular, slow breathing, like with meditation, could help reduce your stress level.
- Listen to music. If the sound of the cleaning equipment or any potential drilling makes you anxious, bring your earphones and music to listen to.
- Pay attention to what you eat and drink. Eat foods high in protein, which help to produce a calming effect, unlike sugary foods. Avoid caffeine before your appointment as it can make you jittery.
- Use hand signals. Agree on hand signals with your dentist beforehand to let them know when you’re feeling uncomfortable and need a break.
- Schedule your appointment at a low-stress time. Choose your dental visit time when you’re less likely to feel pressured or rushed, such as an early-morning appointment or a Saturday.
- Ask for some good reviews. If this is your first time and you need a dentist, ask your relatives or friends for recommendations. A useful review can help you trust the dentist more and could reduce your anxiety.
- Understand advancements. Keep in mind, over the past several years, there have been several advancements in dental procedures, and they’ve improved greatly. Dentistry today provides new treatment options and methods to help you feel more comfortable.
- Ask for medication. Talk to your dentist about medicine to help you relax. Many dentists suggest sedation, nitrous oxide or anti-anxiety medication if you’re extremely nervous. When searching for a dentist, find one who provides these options.
- Take it slow. If you’re nervous, your dentist should be more than willing to take things slowly for you. If possible, schedule an easy appointment first like a dental cleaning. This helps you build trust with your dentist and establish a relationship before you move on to more complex procedures.
Should I Floss Before Going to the Dentist?
The answer to this question can go both ways:
- Some say, yes, you should brush and floss before your dentist appointment. Proponents say brushing and flossing a couple of hours before your appointment is important. However, if you don’t usually floss regularly, then flossing before your appointment won’t do you any good. It may even harm your teeth if you overdo it. Of course, it’s ideal to floss daily to prevent plaque buildup and bad breath.
- Other dentists prefer you don’t brush or floss before your appointment because they would like to see where food becomes stuck in your teeth. This will show them where the problem areas are and where decay is likely to set in. Some dentists even say to have your breakfast or lunch and then come in to see them.
Is It Okay to Eat Before a Dental Appointment?
Many individuals believe they can’t eat before their dental appointment. Some eat the wrong foods before their appointment. Unfortunately, not eating before your appointment or consuming the wrong types of food can both lead to certain issues.
Just because certain foods are “good for you,” doesn’t mean they’re the best choice of food to eat before your appointment. Below are some foods to avoid before going to the dentist.
From a tall glass of grapefruit juice, orange juice or lemonade to a fresh ripe mandarin, citrus foods and beverages shouldn’t go in your mouth before you visit your dentist. Citrus fruits contain a high level of acid, which can weaken your tooth enamel.
Typically, it takes around a half hour for your enamel to harden back up again, but if you drink a glass of orange juice before heading out to your dental appointment, your teeth might not recover in time before the hygienist begins to scrape away at your enamel, potentially causing permanent damage.
2. Beef Jerky
With so many individuals going Paleo or low-carb, beef jerky is gaining popularity again. Even though beef jerky can be relatively healthy and provides a good protein punch, it’s probably not the best food to consume before your appointment. Because of beef jerky’s sinewy nature, it can naturally become caught in between braces wires and teeth.
While popcorn is a fairly healthy snack if it isn’t covered in salt, oil and butter, it can easily become stuck in your teeth. If you’re on your way to a dental visit, forget the popcorn until your appointment is through. Having to pick corn shells out of your teeth will probably not make your hygienist too happy.
With that said, go ahead and eat protein.
4. Protein Can Keep You Full
Consuming a high-protein meal or snack before going to your dentist can help keep you full for several hours. And, if your dental appointment is going to be long, a high-protein snack or meal like nuts, eggs or fish can help keep you full during the procedure.
Since you’ll likely still feel full after your dental visit, you won’t need to eat right away. Therefore, you allow your anesthesia to wear off, preventing you from biting or chewing your lip because your mouth is still numb.
Schedule Your Appointment With Dental Choice
Dental health is an essential part of physical wellness. For over 20 years, Dental Choice has been focusing on the advancement of family dentistry, with the goal of enhancing all family members’ dental health, taking care of oral health from toddlers to the oldest members of your home.
Our relationship with you is valuable to us, which is why we commit to making each one of your visits with us as comfortable and pleasant as possible. We want you to feel appreciated in our office, and we welcome both existing and new patients. Contact us today to schedule your appointment.