If you are fearful of the dentist, it is understandable to put off routine check-ups. But what if months turn into years and before you know it it's been a seriously long time since your last dentist appointment? First, know that you are not alone and that your dentist is used to working with patients who haven't had a checkup in years. Second, just follow these four tips for a low-stress experience going back to the dentist:
Make an Appointment
This may seem like common sense, but making an appointment after such a long time requires overcoming anxiety and forming a solid plan. First, take a look at your dental insurance benefits if you have them, and look through your list of covered providers. Familiarize yourself with any dentists who look promising by perusing their websites. You may want to hone in on dentists who mention they offer sedation dentistry or that they're especially experienced with anxious patients.
If you don't have dental insurance, don't worry. Many dentists offer steeply discounted checkups, x-rays and cleanings for first-time patients. Once you choose your dentist, call and make your appointment. Mention on the phone that it's been a long time since your last exam and cleaning and that you're a bit anxious, so they can best accommodate you.
Manage Your Pain
A dental exam and cleaning shouldn't be painful, but if it's been a long time since your last cleaning, you may have difficult-to-remove plaque as well as irritated gums, which can certainly make things uncomfortable. You can always take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory pain medication before your appointment, and then ask your dentist to numb your gums as well.
Taking pain medication ahead of time will help the novocaine shots to be less painful. If you have any discomfort or pain once your dentist begins the exam and cleaning, be sure to let them know immediately so they can offer additional numbing. Pain thresholds and the amount of novocaine needed to be effective can vary widely by patient, and your dentist wants you to be comfortable. If you are severely afraid or have a very low tolerance for physical discomfort, you may want to find a dentist who offers sedation.
Expect a Deep Cleaning
The longer you go between dental cleanings, the more of a chance plaque has to build up, and the more build-up, the deeper and more thoroughly your dentist will need to clean. There is also a chance you have early gum disease (like roughly half of the population), which also requires a deep cleaning. Deep cleanings are often split into two visits since they take longer than a normal cleaning.
If you need a deep cleaning, try to focus on the positives, like how clean your teeth will feel afterward and how much easier it will be to maintain your oral health once you're starting with a blank slate.
Practice Self Care After Your Appointment
Going to the dentist for the first time in so long takes courage, and you deserve to feel proud of yourself. In addition, your mouth may be a bit sore afterward. For these reasons, it's a good idea to take the rest of the day off from work after your visit if at all possible. Rinse your mouth with warm salt water to soothe your sore gums, and curl up in a comfortable pair of pajamas to watch Netflix or read a book. Don't forget to pat yourself on the back for conquering your fear of returning to the dentist.
By following these tips, you will regain control over your oral health and face your dentist checkup with confidence. Check out a website like http://www.nwidentist.com/ for more information.