Dental consultations are a great way to discuss your fears and concerns regarding an upcoming dental procedure with your dentist. Most dental consultations don’t involve those sharp pointy objects that dentists insert inside your mouth during a regular appointment. So, what is a dental consultation all about, and what should you expect to happen?
A dental consultation is an appointment with your dentist, where you discuss your dental problems, settle on a treatment plan, and clear out any doubts or questions. Your dentist might also conduct a non-invasive oral examination to assess your oral condition and suggest treatment plans accordingly.
In this article, I’ve put together a detailed breakdown of what to expect at your dental consultation, so you can go prepared and come out with a positive experience.
Top 3 Things To Expect at a Dental Consultation
Ideally, everyone should get a dental consultation once a year.
This is where your dentist will re-evaluate your oral health, make adjustments to your oral care routine, and even suggest treatment plans if they notice something is wrong.
Other than that, a dentist will also schedule a dental consultation with a new patient seeking dental treatment prior to performing the initial procedure.
It’s usually a quick visit to the dentist’s office, where you talk with the dentist about your oral health problems, what type of treatment you want, other treatment alternatives, and so on. The dentist will also break down the treatment plan during the consultation, so you’ll know exactly how the treatment will go down in subsequent visits.
That said, what should you expect during the dental consultation?
In the following sections, I’ve highlighted the top 3 things you can expect at a dental consultation. How the appointment will go down precisely will vary depending on the reason for your visit, but this should give you a rough overview of what commonly happens so you can prepare yourself accordingly.
1. Registration and Paperwork
If this is your first time visiting the dental clinic or dentist’s office for a consultation, you’ll need to fill out some paperwork and register with that particular establishment.
The receptionist will likely hand you a piece of paper where you’ll need to provide basic information about yourself, such as:
- Date of birth (age).
- Contact details – phone number, address, email ID.
- Reason for the visit – your current oral problem.
- Dental history – a list of previous dental services you’ve received.
- Other health problems – hypertension, diabetes, etc.
- Medicines you’re currently taking.
- Known allergies, if any.
It’s super important that you provide a proper dental history when registering with a new dental clinic. If you don’t remember or have access to the previous dental diagnoses or treatments, you can call the dental clinic you used to visit. Request them to transfer your dental records to this new establishment, and they should comply.
Also, if you have dental insurance, don’t forget to bring your insurance card when visiting the clinic. You’ll need to provide your insurance details along with your personal information during the registration process so that the consultation and charges for subsequent dental treatments are billed to your insurance company.
The form might or might not have a field for entering your dental insurance details. You can speak with the receptionist to upload/record your insurance information if the form doesn’t.
Now, this registration and paperwork process is customary for new patients.
If you’ve already registered with the clinic and are visiting again for a dental consultation, you won’t need to provide this many details. That said, you will need to provide some information regarding your reason for visit, current medicines you’re receiving, and the like.
Getting access to this information upfront allows the dentist’s team to prepare before seeing you.
2. Dental Examination
After filling out the form and waiting your turn, you’ll get called into the dental examination room.
Here, a person will confirm your name, ask about your problems, and request you to take a seat on the Dental Chair.
Now, you might be thinking “Wait a minute! I’m pretty sure my dentist doesn’t look like this!” and “I thought this was a consultation. Why is this person asking me to sit in the chair where the procedures are done?”
Well, you’re right! This isn’t how your dentist looks. That’s because you’re most likely meeting your dental hygienist.
And no, the dental hygienist will not conduct the dental procedure. They will just perform a non-invasive oral examination to gauge your oral health.
Also, if you still think there’s been a mix-up, you can just ask, “Are you my dental hygienist? Is this a non-invasive dental examination?”
That said, some small dental clinics might not have a dedicated dental hygienist, and the dentist will do the initial dental examination by themselves.
Here’s a quick look at some of the things dentists look for during a dental examination:
- Signs of cavities and tooth decay.
- Receding gums.
- Enamel erosion.
- Gum diseases like gingivitis or periodontitis.
- Problems with your Jaw and bite.
- Access the condition of crowns, veneers, inlays, dentures, bridges, or implants (if any).
- Oral cancer screening.
- Take X-rays to get a picture of the internal structural condition of your tooth.
- Discuss your oral hygiene routine and diet to evaluate fluoride exposure.
The dentist already knows your problems and your dental history since you provided all that information in the form.
The dental examination is done to understand your current oral health to come to a diagnosis and then chalk out a personalized treatment plan.
3. Conversation Between You and Your Dentist
After completing the dental examination, you’ll get to sit with your dentist and have a face-to-face conversation.
You can restate your problems and ask the dentist about what might be wrong and a potential treatment plan.
Based on your dental examination, the dentist will present you with a diagnosis and offer the best treatment option. If you have a special type of oral disorder, e.g., malocclusion or signs of oral cancer, your dentist can refer you to a specialist like an orthodontist or a maxillofacial surgeon.
On the flip side, if you’re looking for a cosmetic dental procedure, the dentist will evaluate your eligibility and either confirm the treatment or suggest alternatives. No two patients are alike, and depending on their overall health conditions, certain procedures might be riskier for some.
For instance, patients who are on blood thinners, have heart problems or are pregnant need to exercise some precautions when undergoing certain dental procedures.
All of this gets cleared out in this conversation.
Other than that, you can ask your dentist to provide additional details about the treatment plan, how it will go down, what will happen on the next visit, and so on to make the most out of your dental consultation.
Most dentists will give you a thorough breakdown to help you become an informed patient.
On a closing note, if the dentist feels that your dental hygiene is causing your present problems, they’ll ask you to improve it with actional suggestions.
A dental consultation is an appointment or meeting with your dentist that you should have at least once a year or before getting a dental procedure.
If you’re a new patient at the dental clinic, you might be asked to fill out some paperwork and registration form before seeing the dentist.
Next, the dentist or a dental hygienist will run a quick dental examination to assess your oral health.
Finally, you’ll talk with the dentists, discussing your dental problems, oral hygiene routine, concerns about the upcoming dental work, and any other questions you might have.