Our last post discussed the importance of having a check list for your daily dental care routine. A list for daily use will help you avoid missing steps needed to keep your teeth healthy and white. Check lists are also wonderful for preparing [in advance] for your dental appointments. They provide a practical way to make sure your questions and concerns are discussed with your dental care provider during your next visit.
With this in mind, as part two of our dental check list discussion, let’s look at items you may want to include on your check list for your visit to the dentist. During your dental check-up, ask your dentist what the visit will consist of (cleaning, X-rays, etc.). You may want to consider these additional questions to ensure you are getting answers that make you feel comfortable with your provider and set you on a course for good oral health:
My Dental Visit Check List:
□ What should I do to keep my gums and teeth healthy?
The dentist or dental hygienist should be able to demonstrate proper brushing and flossing techniques to you, as well as identify any areas of the mouth you seem to be missing in your regular routine.
□ Should I use a fluoride rinse?
Your dental care provider should discuss with you the choices available in fluoride rinses and which he/she recommends. If you are partial to one brand, ask your dentists’ opinion of its efficacy. The same holds true for recommendations on toothpaste and brand of toothbrush. Your dentist can provide suggestions on which will give you greater results for your daily brushing efforts.
□ How can I improve my dental health?
Your dentist can offer tips on how to improve your dental health or provide educational materials that you can peruse following your visit. Websites may also be recommended that can give you a good deal of information about improving long-term dental health.
□ What do you need to know about my health history and medications to evaluate my oral health?
Your dentist may ask about your general health and for a list of your current medications which could explain findings during your check-up or have effects on your oral health.
□ Have you seen any warning signs of a possible medical condition that I should relay to my doctor?
The dentist may be the first to see signs of a wide array of systemic diseases, such as osteoporosis. Dental X-rays and exams often show early warning signs of issues that may be present in the body. Your dentist may recommend seeing your physician for a full evaluation if signs are present. Remember, better safe than sorry.
□ Can you help me quit smoking?
Smoking has a wide array of negative effects on overall health as well as dental health. From yellowed teeth to oral cancer, smoking is one of the greatest enemies to your mouth as well as the rest of your body. Your dentist will be delighted to hear you want to quit smoking and can direct you to a number of sources to help you successfully kick the smoking habit. If you are a smoker, please consider quitting today. Ask your dentist for assistance today...don't wait until your visit. Call today. The dentist or office staff will gladly guide you on getting started right away.
If your visit to the dentist is a first time visit, you will also want to confirm that you are at a practice at which you feel comfortable. After all, you want to develop a long-term relationship with your dental care provider. These are additional questions to ask at the front desk:
□ Is the dental office close to your home or office?
Is the location convenient for you and/or your family? We lead such busy lives these days. As in all things related to real estate, remember…location, location, location. It is helpful if the office is near your home, office or other location that you frequent.
□ Are the office hours convenient for your schedule?
Make sure that your dentist is open at times when you will be able to get in for a check-up without needing to take time off from work or having to take your child out of school.
□ Does the office appear to be clean and well organized?
This is one to ask yourself…if the location appears unclean, will you want the dentist working in your mouth? If the office seems disorganized, will you worry that they did not schedule you correctly or process your insurance accurately? There is a lot to be said for comfort and trust. These things come from a practice that is clean and well run.
□ Is the office staff friendly and helpful?
This is, again, yours to answer. You should feel welcomed when you enter the office and treated with respect throughout your visit. If the office staff is rude or unwilling to be of assistance, this may not be the practice for you.
□ What is the office policy for cancelling or rescheduling appointments?
Be sure to ask about this policy, particularly if you are prone to getting to places late or are often in need of rescheduling. Most practices have a 24 hour cancellation policy in place. Be sure to know it ahead of time.
□ How are dental emergencies handled?
Dental emergencies can happen at hours when a practice is typically closed. How will the dentist handle your emergency? Be sure to know his or her plan for patients during off hours. Learning what the process is in the middle of an emergency is never a good plan!
□ What is the policy on fees and payment plans?
Office staff should be able to explain which insurances are accepted and what types of payment arrangements may be made. Before agreeing to begin any course of treatment, you should know the costs and what options you have available to manage your bill.
Finding a practice that meets your dental care needs and making of the most of each visit will set you on a course for good dental health.
Remember to stop back for our next post where we will offer more information about dental care issues and concerns to help you best care for your oral health.
Wishing you bright smiles!