Don't Underestimate the Importance of "Routine" Dental Visits
Question: "Dr. Arnold, it seems like every time I see my dentist, they rush me in and rush me out. My cleaning appointments never last more than twenty to thirty minutes. Is that really enough time for them to do a good job for me?"
Answer: A lot of times, patients look at their periodic dental check-up as "just a cleaning" when in fact, that appointment is tremendously important and is critical to maintaining excellent oral health. The amount of time necessary to complete this process thoroughly can vary from patient to patient depending upon a variety of factors.
In my office, most adult cleanings take about one hour. Sometimes the time needed is a little bit less, and sometimes it's a bit more. However, the time needed should always be customized for each patient.
It's important that everything that needs to be done can be completed in a non-rushed manner to ensure excellent and thorough care. A typical appointment consists of radiographs (x-rays), an oral exam, scaling the teeth, polishing the teeth, a fluoride treatment, patient education, and time to answer any questions.
The oral exam consists of evaluating the condition of each tooth, the periodontal (gum and bone) health, checking for oral cancer, and a variety of other factors. This process is really the cornerstone of the appointment.
Our dental hygienists are very well-trained to thoroughly, but gently clean patients' teeth. Scaling is the process of removing any tartar (hard deposits) from the teeth. Polishing the teeth removes any residual plaque and smooths everything.
Dental hygienists should be well-versed in the new protocols necessary to help keep patients healthy, and they should spend time instructing patients on the importance of doing their part with excellent home care. If there are any problem areas, our hygienists spend additional time showing our patients what needs to be done.
Every dental practice is different, and various protocols may be employed at each. That having been said, it is very important that you feel comfortable with the care that you are receiving. If you feel like your dental team is rushing you through your appointment and that your questions aren't being given the attention they deserve, you should address this with them.
Remember that this appointment is extremely important, and you deserve excellent dental care. It isn't "just a cleaning." It is an opportunity to evaluate your condition, explain your situation, answer your questions, and clean your teeth thoroughly. The importance of this appointment should never be underestimated - by you or your dental team.
Dr. Jim Arnold is a practicing dentist in Valparaiso and Chesterton. Additionally, he serves on the Advisory Board for the Academy of Comprehensive Esthetics and is involved with many other local, state, national, and international dental organizations. Questions for Dr. Arnold can be emailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org or sent to: 1830 South 11th St., Chesterton, IN, 46304. More information on this and a variety of other dental topics can be found at: www.SmilesByArnold.com.