Because there is a doctor shortage in Ontario, most people do not have the luxury of choice once an opening in a practice becomes available. They either accept the physician available or wait further.
However, dentists are plentiful in many Ontario cities. Nonetheless, having too many choices can also frustrate your search for a new dentist. Life is busy and oftentimes too many choices can be overwhelming.
If finding “the one” is proving to be more difficult than you anticipated, we hope that you will find all the information you are looking for in our blog: Tips: Choosing A New Dentist
What is involved in a New Patient Exam when you see a new dentist?
We get many calls to our office from people asking if we are accepting new patients. At Your Smile Dental Care, we love welcoming new people to our dental family. Your first phone call to our office is the first step in understanding what to expect during your first visit and how to prepare for it.
Your previous dental history often provides information that may be vital to your future care with a new dentist. As such, your dental records can be transferred from your previous dentist to our office by signing a release form that gives your current dentist permission to transfer your private dental information. Because this is a process that dental offices carry out routinely, records are usually transferred in a cooperative and timely fashion so that they can be reviewed by our staff before you come in for your first appointment.
Alternatively, some people prefer to begin this process at their current dental office. The key point is that this undertaking requires your signature. Some offices simplify this process by sending you the documentation to your mobile device for an electronic signature or for you to print, sign, then photo capture before sending back. The idea is to get the process started quickly and efficiently so that there is no interruption in patient care.
Booking Your Appointment
Once the records are received and reviewed, a New Patient appointment can be scheduled for a convenient date and time. Sometimes, this appointment can be booked in advance and in anticipation of receiving your dental history records promptly. Knowing what to expect during your first visit depends on your individual dental needs – be they Check-up, Emergency or Consultation
The 3 Types of New Patient Exams
1. The Complete Exam
Because you will be a new patient to the office, you will have a full exam even though you may be due for your periodic check-up exam.
Why do you need a full exam?
Many things can alter your oral health care in between dental visits. As a new patient to our office, it is necessary to evaluate and become familiar with your dental and medical history and current status before we even pick up any instruments to clean your teeth. This initial exam is a very important step and consists of a detailed and thorough exam and information gathering session. It will include:
- A review of your medical and dental history
- An examination of all oral structures in your mouth, not only your teeth
- Your teeth will be checked for things like decay, wear, damage, bite, mobility etc.
- Your gums will be examined for pocket depths, bleeding, recession, and overall health
- An oral cancer screening will be performed
- Your past dental work will be checked for signs of damage, wear, fracturing, looseness, etc.
- We determine if x-rays will be necessary to help us access and identify areas of concern
- As we examine we chart of all this data
- When we move onto the cleaning phase of this appointment, we continue to analyse your dental health
- We will discuss al findings with yo and recommendations will be made, including any treatment plan going forward
- Of course, we will encourage you to share your thoughts and concerns with us during this examination
Naturally, all of this takes times and is a crucial step in getting to know you, your health and your individual needs. The more we know about you and your overall health, the more effective we can be in addressing your dental care needs. Your subsequent dental cleaning will then be tailored to your “specific to you” needs. For any future dental check-ups, we will have a baseline and reference point that allows us to provide continuity of care.
2. The Immmediate Exam
If your dental concern is of an immediate or emergency nature, then you are likely seeking an appointment as soon as possible. Understand that there is a difference, however, between what is considered an emergency and a non-emergency issue.
A true dental emergency is typically anything that involves any dental issue that requires immediate attention in order to save a tooth, if there has been a traumatic injury involving bleeding of the mouth or if you need relief from severe pain. Most offices can accommodate you into their same or next day’s schedule with the anticipation of providing you with an assessment then determining what form of relief or temporary treatment can be offered immediately. A discussion will then take place concerning what long term remedies may be necessary for your “specific to you” dental issue.
A non-emergency new patient appointment would concern a dental problem that poses no immediate threat to your teeth or life, as in often the case with infections or trauma. Some examples are a lost fillings, chipped tooth, moderate pain/discomfort that you can manage with some pain relief, or the recementing of fixed dental work like crowns, bridge or braces.
3. The Consultation Exam
Perhaps you do not have an immediate problem, but are looking to move forward with some elective or comprehensive dental treatment. You may just wish to have a dentist offer you some treatment options or a 2nd opinion. This is especially common with patients who are interested in teeth straightening, implants, cosmetic treatment or complete dental makeovers.
This no-hassle, first New Patient appointment will likely consist of some information gathering and a discussion about your “unique to you” dental situation. A visual exam can only yield so much information. Having current radiographs or other pertinent dental records available for this visit will allow the dentist to assess your current dental status more accurately before offering an informed recommendation. For more complicated issues, sometimes a secondary visit is necessary. Which brings us to…
Why do different dentist offer different treatment plans?
No two patients are alike and that is important to understand when you are comparing your dental options with another person. The confusion arises when different dentists offer different recommendations for the same patient. It is important to understand that you are fortunate if you have more than one option available to you. It means you have choices!
Your dentist is there to help you make an informed decision based your dental health, finances, values and your commitment to maintaining a healthy mouth moving forward. Dentists, themselves, come to their conclusions based on a variety of factors including training, occupational experience, office technology, passion, thoroughness of patient assessment, confidence in patient’s future compliance/efforts, prognosis, and whether they are conservative or progressive in their approach to patient care.
Lastly, it can also be a challenging situation if a person is looking for a quick, inexpensive and long-term solution for rather complex dental issue.
How can you prepare for your first visit to a new dental office?
There is some information that must be gathered in order to ensure that there is continuity of care and to identify any medical issues or medications that can challenge your dental care going forward. To ensure that all information pertinent to your care is available to your new office, be prepared to bring with you or arrange for the following:
- Updated medication list.
- Family doctor’s name and telephone number.
- Details surrounding any current medical treatment you are receiving.
- Your dental insurance information. Most people have a dental ID card that has been issued to them by their employer/school. In the absence of this, be prepared to have your insurance information written down including – Name of employer, Name of Insurer, Policy and ID number
- If you are anticipating that your first visit will be an expense covered by your insurer then you will likely want to ensure this. Your new dental office will usually work with you to gather this information and will likely be part of the records release process from your previous dentist in addition to contacting your insurer.
- The need to take a prophylactic antibiotic before any dental treatment is a decision that should be made in consultation with your physicians and is a matter that should be reviewed regularly. If you have been advised to continue being pre-medicated before dental treatments, inform your new office in order to ensure that you are prepared for treatment.
- Confirm your appointment the day before you arrive to ensure that all pertinent information has been received
- Don’t forget to brush and floss your teeth!
We hope that you now have a clearer understanding of what different new patient visits consists of. To make an appointment at Your Smile Dental Care or to get more information about your first visit, call us at (905) 5SMILES. You’ll be glad you did!