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Haven’t been to the dentist in years: what to expect

It isn’t unusual to experience some anxiety before going to the dentist. Whilst most checkups tend to be relaxed and straight forward, your dentist could discover a problem that requires a significant procedure, or you may simply not enjoy a stranger looking into your mouth.

However, a dentist appointment can feel even more daunting if you haven’t been for a few years. You may feel worried about how long it has been, that your oral hygiene has lapsed, and that you can’t remember what dentist appointments actually entail. If this is the case, what should you expect? 

Plaque removal

Because you haven’t been to the dentist in several years, it’s likely that you will have a build-up of plaque around your teeth. This is normal and is not something to be embarrassed about. Whilst plaque removal is generally painless, you may experience some discomfort, especially close to your gums. It may also take longer than average if you have not been in a while, however, you will notice how clean your mouth feels afterwards. 

Fillings

Alongside a build-up of plaque, you may also have some cavities that need fillings. Depending on your dentist, these procedures may not happen on the same day as your appointment, giving you time to mentally prepare. Fillings are generally quick, straight forward procedures, but you will have a local anaesthetic so that the area around the tooth becomes numb. This minimises the amount of pain and discomfort you feel and wears off after a few hours. 

The next appointment

After your dentist has finished examining your mouth, the receptionist may ask if you want to book your next check-up. It’s often easiest to book it in straight away, so you’re not tempted to put it off again. 

So, how can you make going to the dentist a less daunting experience? 

Brush and floss beforehand

If you’re worried about the state of your teeth before your appointment, get into the habit of brushing and flossing well a few weeks before. This will already improve your oral hygiene if you have not been doing this properly for a while. You should also brush your teeth right before your appointment. It will make you feel less anxious and more comfortable when you’re sitting in the chair. 

Communication

If anxiety is the reason you haven’t attended the dentist in a long time, tell your dentist about this beforehand. If they are aware of the way you’re feeling, they can be extra accommodating and talk you through everything clearly and calmly. It may also help if they have music or radio playing. 

Bring a friend 

If you continue to be worried about going to the dentist, bring a friend or relative with you and ask if they can sit in during the appointment. You will feel much more relaxed knowing that they’re there and that you can do something enjoyable together afterwards.

 

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