Has it been awhile since your last visit to a dentist? Perhaps you’re embarrassed because it's been a long time, or you just need to get established at a new office. You may have a tooth that hurts, you may have a specific problem you want addressed, or maybe nothing bothers you and you just want to make sure everything is okay.
Whether you're saying “nothing hurts, doc” or “I've got a lot of stuff to fix,” the first step in finding your new dental home is an initial, or comprehensive, examination. This is where our team of dentists, assistants, and hygienists do a full evaluation and provide you with an overall treatment plan for getting you to optimum oral health with a great smile!
What All Is Part of the Initial Exam?
Intake – Of course, every first visit to a doctor's office starts with paperwork. I wish we could eliminate that, but we need your information – contact, insurance, and health history. (If you want a head start, you can click here to get our forms ahead of time and bring them already filled out.)
Chief complaint – We make sure to listen carefully to hear what you've got going on. This is where you tell us if anything is hurting or if there's anything you want to fix or improve. We want to make sure you get taken care of!
X-rays – Depending on your age, we usually take a full series of x-rays to get a close-up view of all your teeth – from the biting surfaces to the ends of the roots. We also take a panoramic x-ray to see how your jaw and wisdom teeth are doing. This allows us to make sure everything is okay by seeing what the human eye cannot. (Of course, if you don't have any teeth, all we take is the panoramic x-ray to make sure your jaw is okay.)
Dental exam – This is when you get to meet one of our doctors. He or she will check your jaw and bite, do an oral cancer screening, and look at each one of your teeth. If you have any treatment needs, your dentist will discuss these with you and come up with a step-by-step plan with you.
Perio charting – This is when you get to meet one of our hygienists. She will measure the gum and bone support around each of your teeth and let you know what kind of cleaning you will need.
Treatment Plan – For most patients, by the end of your visit, we will provide a print out of your step-by-step treatment plan along with estimates of what your insurance will cover. If the treatment needs are complex, occasionally another visit is required to complete the conversation.
Do I Really Need All That?
We know this sounds like a lot to get done, but we can usually finish this visit for you in about 1 hour. Of course, if something is really hurting you, we'll probably need to do an emergency visit instead. But under normal circumstances, doing all of these steps enables us to make sure that everything is either okay or addressed in the treatment plan.
What About My Cleaning?
We don't usually plan on doing a cleaning for you on your first visit. This is mostly because we don't know ahead of time what kind of cleaning you will need, and we want to make sure we set aside enough time to do the right treatment for you. The only way we can do that is to do the comprehensive exam first and then schedule you back for another visit for either a regular cleaning or a “deep” cleaning.
Where Do I Sign Up?
Please call our office at (719) 285-4784 and our staff will set up an appointment for you. If you have any dental insurance, please have it handy. If you give us that info ahead of time, we can start looking it up and have better estimates for you when you come visit us. See you soon!