When entering a dental practice, you will often be scheduled for a new patient exam. This is different than a routine cleaning and will vary based on your previous dental history. In a previous blog post, we mentioned the screening process leading up to this exam. However, I think it’s also important to discuss the value and purpose of the new patient exam.
To paraphrase Pete Dawson of The Dawson Academy for Dental Continuing Education, the goal of the new patient exam is so that every problem can be seen and understood. For many new patients, this cannot be achieved during a cursory cleaning, and a full hour-and-a-half new patient exam may be necessary.
For example, if you have had more complex dentistry done in the past – implants, bridges, root canals and periodontal surgery – a full exam may be the best option. That is because this exam will provide the dentist with ample time to examine your dentistry and develop a strategy for sustainable dental health. For others, however, a shorter cursory exam may be sufficient.
The goal here is not just to get your teeth cleaned. Rather, to make sure that your current dental health is not in a state of breakdown. If during the exam issues are uncovered, this time is valuable in assessing treatment options and clarifying the implications of not treating problems in a timely manner.
That is why it is so important to answer screening questions honestly and schedule the correct exam. However, if you schedule a new patient exam and your needs only warrant a shorter cursory exam, you will not be charged for the full exam. This is an honest concern for people scheduling their first appointment with a new practice.
Conversely, if you schedule a cursory exam and your needs exceed the time allotted with the dentist, we will give you the option to reschedule.
Ultimately, our goal is that your teeth will outlive you, and 10 to 15 years from now your dental health will be better than it is today.
By staying two steps ahead of your dental health, your dentist can help you make your teeth stronger over time. And all this begins with a thorough assessment during your new patient exam.
To schedule an exam or discuss your dental needs, call us today at 813-689-4226.