What to Know About Going Back to the Dentist…Even If It’s Been Years Since Your Last Appointment

What to Know About Going Back to the DentistHas it been awhile since your last dentist appointment? Don’t worry, you are not alone. It is not uncommon for individuals to skip the dentist for a variety of reasons. A lot of people experience anxiety or fear about going to the dentist and avoid it at all costs. Others are concerned with how much they will have to pay for their visit, especially if they are not covered by dental insurance.

Dental check-ups are about more than just getting your teeth cleaned. Regular dental visits are important because they allow your dentist to detect cavities early, catch gum disease, protect your overall health, and so much more. For these reasons, going to the dentist is an essential part of maintaining good oral hygiene and overall health habits.

When deciding to go back to the dentist after a hiatus, it is good to know what to expect in order to alleviate any worries you may have. Knowing what to expect can also provide a little courage when picking up the phone to make your appointment. With this in mind, we have put together a list of things to plan for with that first visit back.

Appointment may take awhile

Whether you end up going to a dentist office you have been to before, or you are starting fresh with a new dentist, the dentist will need updated paperwork and your full dental history. At Temple Family Dentistry, we offer the option to complete your paperwork online in advance of your appointment, which can be a huge time saver! Reviewing your dental history will still take up a small chunk of time before you even get into the dentist’s chair, but once you do make it into the chair, the cleaning itself will most likely take longer than usual. If it’s been some time since you’ve been in for a dental cleaning, your teeth will most likely have a significant amount of plaque build-up on them. This will mean the hygienist will need to spend more time cleaning each tooth.


X-rays are standard practice when it comes to dental health, so be prepared to have them done, even if you managed to dig up old ones while seeking out your dental records. Ideally, dental x-rays should be repeated on an annual basis, as a lot can change in that span of time. X-rays give your dentist the ability to see small cavities, tiny cracks in the teeth, and any below the gum issues that might be lurking.

Bleeding gums and pain

Dentists do not try to cause you pain, but sometimes it happens. If it has been awhile since your last cleaning, you may experience bleeding or discomfort. When teeth are not regularly flossed, it is common for them to bleed when touched by the dental instruments, or when the hygienist flosses your teeth. Additionally, if the hygienist has to work hard to scrape the plaque off, this may cause discomfort. Remember, this is short-lived…and, as long as you keep up with regular dental cleanings moving forward, you won’t have to experience this discomfort again!

Comprehensive exam

In addition to a thorough cleaning, the dentist will conduct a comprehensive exam to ensure there are no major dental issues. They will ask about your general health since your last visit, examine your x-rays, and check for loose filling and any signs of periodontal disease. They will also check your cheeks, lips, and tongue for indications of mouth cancer.


Now that you are armed with what you can anticipate with your first visit back, it is time to take the leap and make that appointment. Remind yourself that regular dental visits are so important for not only the health of your teeth and gums, but your overall physical health as well. This should help encourage you to make going to the dentist part of your regular health routine.