What to Expect at your First Visit
Dental Exam Health History and Forms
Before you arrive for your first dental exam you may be asked to complete health information forms that will allow us to begin your dental exam and treatment. We will ask you to fill out several forms that will get you acquainted with our office. It is important to notify us if there is any change in your health history or if you begin taking any medications because these things can effect how you are treated. Patients taking blood thinners and certain treatments for osteoporosis are particularly important to report. Please inform us of any history of joint or heart valve replacement that might require premedication before a dental cleaning. You will be asked to update this form once a year. A link to these forms will be emailed to you prior to your appointment.
Your First Exam
Your first dental exam with us will last approximately 2 hours. Follow up appointments are an hour. During the first exam we take extra time to get to know you and your mouth better! A complete record of your oral health will be obtained in photos and x-rays. You will have your teeth thoroughly cleaned by one of our hygienists. On your initial visit a full set of dental X-rays will be taken and Dr. Nawiesniak will perform a comprehensive dental exam.
During a comprehensive examination, Dr. Nawiesniak will look at much more than just your teeth. He will check other areas inside and outside your mouth for signs of disease or other problems. You likely will receive these evaluations:
Head and Neck
Dr Nawiesniak will check your head and neck, temporomandibular (jaw) joint, salivary glands and lymph nodes in your neck area.
He will look at your face, neck and lips to make sure there are no unusual swellings, lip dryness, bleeding or other abnormalities that need to be checked further.
Your temporomandibular joint is the joint that guides your lower jaw when you open your mouth. It’s often called the TMJ. To see if the joint is working properly, Dr. Nawiesniak will ask you to open and close your mouth and to move your lower jaw from side to side. You will be asked if you have had any pain or soreness in the joint. Dr. Nawiesniak may touch the joint while you open and close your mouth. This allows him to feel for hitches or catches in movement that may indicate problems.
He also will touch salivary glands and lymph nodes in your neck area. Swelling or tenderness there may indicate infection or disease.
The soft tissues of the mouth include the tongue, the inside of the lips and cheeks, and the floor and roof of the mouth. Dr. Nawiesniak will check for spots, cuts, swellings, growths or other abnormal areas.
A periodontal examination involves checking the gums and supporting structures of the teeth. First, Dr. Nawiesniak will look at the gums for signs of redness or puffiness. He may poke them gently to see how easily they bleed. These symptoms may indicate gum disease. He may use a special probe to measure the depth of the pockets between your teeth and your gums. Pockets deeper than 3 millimeters often indicate periodontal disease. If he determines that you have periodontal disease, he may refer you to a periodontist. This is a specialist who treats diseases of the gums. If you are diagnosed with periodontal disease you will require more advanced treatment and more frequent cleanings to manage. Periodontal disease, is an ongoing chronic condition that needs to be treated in order to maintain good cardiac and neurological health.
Dr. Nawiesniak may check how well your teeth fit together by examining your bite. First, you will be asked to bite naturally. If the teeth don’t seem to fit together properly, your dentist may have you bite down on special wax or paper. Your teeth make an impression in the wax that can help show how your teeth meet. The paper makes temporary marks on your teeth that show where your teeth come together.
Clinical Examination of Teeth
Dr. Nawiesniak will check for decay by looking at every tooth surface (using a mirror to see the back sides of teeth). He or she also will poke your teeth with a tool called an explorer to detect cavities. Decayed tooth enamel is softer than healthy enamel. If you have fillings, permanent bridges, crowns or other restorations, your dentist will check to make certain that they remain whole and sound and that the teeth around them have no sign of decay.
X-rays will be taken to help Dr. Nawiesniak look for decay (cavities) or other oral health problems that cannot be seen during the clinical exam. X-rays also provide the best way for the dentist to see a need for root canal treatment, or bone loss that may indicate advanced gum disease. All dental x-rays, including digital x-rays, use very low levels of radiation and are very safe. You are exposed to more natural radiation during a routine day than you will be exposed to during a dental exam. If radiation is a concern we do have lead aprons available upon request.
If there are any signs of decay or other problems, Dr. Nawiesniak will recommend treatment options and make notes of any conditions that may need future observation. Oral hygiene instructions will also be provided along with suggestions to help you care for your teeth.
Dr. Nawiesniak and our entire team look forward to meeting you and your family as we work together to care for you and your oral health. Prevention is a key part of maintaining your overall health and wellbeing.