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A common question new patients ask us when they call to schedule an exam is, what does the new patient exam entail? While some aspects of the exam do not vary from office to office, other parts are left up to the dentist’s discretion. At Jackson Family Dentistry we carefully screen our patient’s health history, give complete comprehensive exams and schedule individual time with our patients. Other offices especially “corporate” dental offices do not take this additional time with the patient. By doing this we hope to give our patients a better understanding of their oral health.
We will first gather your health history. We have forms in our office for you to fill out or you can download them from our website and fill them out prior to your visit. This is an important part for us to see where you are in your current health state. Knowing about your past health will give us a benchmark and allow us to monitor these concerns. If you have insurance, we will collect your information and file your claim with your insurance provider. Unlike other offices, we will file all of your paperwork for you and check to see what your insurance benefits are. We understand that it is very frustrating to have an insurance plan but not know what it covers. With our office, there is no guesswork as to if you’re covered or not. We will always find out before a procedure is started what your estimated bill would be.
we keep time set aside in the schedule for newpatients. We schedule all of our adult new patients for a one-hour appointment with the dentist. The dentist will see you for a complete and comprehensive exam. The first thing that will be done is to take a full set of x-rays. This lets us look at your entire mouth for potential problems and gives us a foundation to start our examination. While this is slightly more time consuming than taking bite wings we feel it is well worth the time. Bitewings show the teeth above the gum line as well as the height of the bone between the teeth. A full set of x-rays shows all of your teeth as well as all of the bone. This helps diagnose cavities, abscesses, impacted teeth and gum disease with much more accuracy. A full set of x-rays generally consists of 14-20 individual x-rays and should be taken at least once every five years. Our job is to make sure your mouth is healthy and we feel we can’t do that properly without having a complete set of x-rays. The dentist will also chart all of your teeth and notate missing teeth, fillings, cavities and other concerns he sees. He will be able to share these concerns with you through intra-oral imaging. These photos will be displayed on a screen which will allow you to see the same concerns our dentist sees and be able to discuss any necessary treatment plans and different options for you.
The third step is called “periodontal charting”. This is when the dentist or hygienist measures the area between the gum and your tooth known as the “pocket”. You will hear them calling out a series of numbers and these are the spaces of the pocket in millimeters. Healthy gums have pockets between 1-3mm, higher numbers could mean there is gum disease present or gingivitis, which is the early stage of periodontal disease. Again, some offices do not take the time to do this, however, we are very thorough with our exams. If your gums are healthy a regular cleaning is recommended, however, if you have gum disease a regular cleaning is not going to be very helpful and a deeper cleaning will be necessary. This deeper cleaning specifically targets the gums in order to reduce the bacteria that reside there. If not for this deeper cleaning your diseased gums would continue to get worse. Finally, all of our patients receive an oral cancer screening test. According to the oral cancer foundation, almost 50,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral cancer each year. The best way to combat cancer is to detect it early. The test only takes a minute to administer and it is just one more step we take to make sure our patients leave in good oral standing.
Jackson Family Dentistry is committed to our patients' health and improving their lives through expert dental care. We do this through comprehensive exams, x-rays, and screenings. When you leave our office you will always know we were as thorough as possible and did our very best for your dental health. If you are looking for a new dentist, give us a call, you will be glad you did!