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What happens at my first visit?

At your first visit, you will be greeted by our front office staff and they will inform you of any necessary paperwork to be completed. Once new patient paperwork is completed, you will be greeted by a dental hygienist or a dental assistant who will likely guide you into an x-ray room. X-rays are taken for evaluation and diagnostic purposes.
Following the necessary x-rays, your hygienist should speak with you for a few minutes about the reason for your visit, any concerns about your teeth and gums, and any desires that you may have. They will also review your health and dental health history. The hygienist should:

  • Evaluate and measure the status of your gum health.
  • If the status of your gum health does not require periodontal treatment, then your dental cleaning should begin.
  • Your hygienist will clean tooth by tooth with professional dental instruments, floss around each tooth and follow up with a fine polishing of each tooth surface.
  • Your teeth should feel fresh and clean.
  • During this cleaning, your hygienist evaluates your tooth structure and your gum tissues.

Finally, your dentist will evaluate your overall mouth and take a look tooth by tooth and diagnose any areas of needed treatment. A customized treatment plan will be developed for you based on your own needs and desires. You may ask your dentist any questions you may have. Your treatment plan will be available to the front office staff so that they can review any insurance and billing questions. We will schedule your following visit before you leave the office and an explanation of what to expect at that next visit will be offered to you.

How often are x-rays taken?

A series of x-rays are taken at your comprehensive exam visit in order to develop a baseline of dental health and for the diagnosis of dental disease. Once this series is taken, routine x-rays are generally provided every 12 months. In some cases, x-rays are needed more frequently based on your specific dental health need. We follow the ALARA principle, which stands for As Low As Reasonably Achievable.

What is my level of exposure to radiation when having an x-ray taken?

Dental x-rays do emit radiation in extremely precise, isolated amounts. This amount of radiation is measured in something called a millisievert (mSv). Each DOC practice uses digital x-rays which only require a fraction of the dosage of radiation as conventional x-rays do. A full mouth series of x-rays is estimated to emit ~ 0.075 mSv. By comparison, other types of emitting radiation estimated at:

Abdominal x-ray – 4.060 mSv
Chest x-ray – .10 mSv

2 hours in a jet plane – 0.10 mSv
Additional radiation from living in Denver, CO – 0.510 mSv (per year)
Avg. natural radiation in the US (per year) – 3.00 mSv

How often should I floss my teeth?

You should floss your teeth once a day. However, maintaining a consistent regular flossing schedule is the most important factor so don’t get discouraged and give up if you have to occasionally skip a day.

Why do I grind my teeth at night?

Many factors can contribute to why we grind our teeth but the most common are:

  • TMJ disorders (improper functioning of the jaw hinge joint)
  • Stress
  • Improper occlusion or biting position

Most of the time grinding can be resolved by a simple fix of a nightguard. A nightguard is a customized hard tray that fits over the chewing surfaces of your upper or lower teeth and prevents teeth from grinding together.

Why do I need to know if I’m pregnant at my appointment?

Depending on your stage of pregnancy, we may elect to defer x-rays until a later visit. We follow the ALARA principle for x-rays, so if you are scheduled for routine x-rays we can delay until after pregnancy. It is also helpful for your dentist and hygienist to monitor gum health effectively, because many women experience inflammation and bleeding from the gums due to changes in hormone levels during pregnancy.

What causes a cavity?

Sugars and food particles attach to your teeth allowing oral bacteria to build up on your teeth in the form of plaque. Plaque is a collection of living bacteria. This bacteria produces acid as a byproduct which eats away and damages the outer structure of the tooth. Once this outer structure is decayed, the cavity can grow large very quickly, sometimes without a toothache until the cavity grows all the way to the nerve of the tooth.