What to expect on your first visit
We strive to provide a comfortable and relaxing atmosphere. We understand that life is hectic, therefore we strive to keep your appointment on time. You are more than just a number, we take the time to get to know you and your situation, then develop a treatment plan specific to your individual needs and abilities. We treat you like family.
Paperwork. I know it's no fun ,but we have to do it . You can save a lot of time by downloading all the forms from my web page: DrGaryLWhite.com. Simply go to our web page, select “Index”, then “Documents”, fill them out to the best of your ability and bring them with you to your first visit. Also, if your X-rays are from within one year at another office, ask that a copy be sent to our office so we can avoid retaking them.
The next step is to determine what x-rays you need to build your chart. If you have no X-rays with you we will take a full set of all your teeth and supporting structures. Don't worry - they are safe with a relatively small dose. We are checked by the state every year to insure that our machines are functioning correctly and that our procedures are usual and customary. I wrote a complete article about dental x-rays you can read attached to this statement. No one should attempt to give a complete exam with out a vital set of x-rays.
We will then use the x-rays to view each tooth as well as the bone and soft tissues supporting the tooth. This provides a base line to begin your exam. We will chart what dental work you currently have and any visual or x-ray of a problem that needs addressing. Next is the visual exam of each tooth: noting if any of the teeth are mobil or lose, the condition of the gum around each tooth as well as the junction of the gum to the tooth, the wear patterns of the teeth, and the position of each tooth in relation to the other teeth and to the comfortable function of the jaw.
There is probably no other item as important to the dentist as a good set of x-rays. The State monitors our machines regularly to insure that the correct amount of radiation we use does not exceed safe levels.
Without x-rays a dentist cannot see between and under the teeth. Cavities in the teeth can often be treated before they grow large enough to be seen with with the naked eye or before they become painful to the patient.
Most patients get a yearly set of X-rays with their cleaning. These are called bite-wings. They show us the area between upper and lower back teeth. They also show us the bone level around the teeth and any defects that need to be addressed. A set of two to four x-rays usually covers the area.
Another series of X-rays is called a full mouth projection or Panoramic. Many patients feel they have a complete set if they only have the bite-wings mentioned above, however a full set of x-rays covers the bite-wings and also all the front and back teeth from the crown to root tip. It usually takes sixteen x-rays to achieve adequate coverage of all the teeth as well as a complete picture of the hard and soft tissues supporting the teeth. The average patient should have a full set every five to seven years.
We would encourage our patients to have at least one complete set of x-rays as a part of the complete exam. If you’re not sure if you’re covered, call and ask us today.
soft tissue exam
From here we move on to the soft tissue exam. We examine the tissues of the cheeks, the floor of the mouth, the tongue and the throat. If we detect anything abnormal we will most likely recommend that you see an oral surgeon for a biopsy. Included in this exam we palpate all the muscles that make your jaw work. We are looking for tenderness, popping or clicking when you open or close, how far can you open your mouth, does your jaw ever lock, and do you have any particular time of the day that you notice sore or tender muscles in and about your face.
Now is the point in the exam where we discuss our findings. Typically I will ask you what are your expectations. Do you want to maintain what you have or do you want improvements. We will lay out the choices or treatment plans for you fulfill your needs. If your case is very extensive we will take photographs if your teeth and facial characteristics and transpose models or you mouth in stone placed on a mechanical simulation of your jaw. If this is the case we will ask you to return to office for a follow up appointment where we can talk more intelligently about your case. Many complex cases can be sequenced in stages to to accommodate the expense and maximize your insurance.
That's about it. We find by laying out the ground work ahead of time makes for a successful conclusion. We look forward to helping you with all of your dental needs.