Seeing a new dentist for the first time isn't much different from a routine checkup, but it is a lot more thorough. This is because your new dentist will want to try to gauge your dental health for his own records and so he can get a good feel for what your specific needs are. This is especially important if you've had to go some time without dental care due to financial hardship, lack of insurance, or simply not going.
Catch Your Dentist Up
While you will undergo a comprehensive examination during your visit, it's still very important that you talk to your dentist before that examination. This is where you want to tell your new dentist about any fears or anxieties you might have and specific concerns about your health. For example, if you're worried that you might have a cavity, if you have sensitive teeth or if you are feeling jaw pain, you should tell him immediately instead of hoping that he just finds out on his own.
Beyond ascertaining what dental concerns you have, it's best to establish your boundaries and explain what accommodations you need for your comfort from the get go. If certain tools make you nervous, if you need to take something to calm your anxiety before a procedure, or even if you just feel more comfortable if your dentist explains everything to you before he does anything, tell him before he starts looking in your mouth.
Undergo The Examination
The comprehensive examination comes next, and it's nothing more than your dentist trying to get a feel for what he'll be working with. This is a purely visual examination, so don't worry about needing any procedures that same day.
While you're there, your dentist will check your teeth and gums, as well as your jaw, your salivary glands, your tongue and your lymph nodes. Specifically, he will be looking for signs of decay, swelling and tenderness. You can expect a few tools to be used here, like a small pick or a mirror, but this is only so he can take a close look at every part of your mouth. He will also want to take a look at any past dental work you've had, like fillings, extractions and root canals.
Finally, you'll likely have some X-rays taken as well. This helps your dentist look for progress on growing teeth, if applicable, signs of decay and past dental work.
If at any point during the examination you start to feel uncomfortable, let your dentist know immediately.
Bring The Right Paperwork
If it hasn't been too long since you last saw a dentist, you'll want to bring your most recent X-rays. You should also bring records of any medication you are taking or have taken within the last six month, as well as details about your current dental insurance.
Records of past dental work in general is a plus, but not required. It will help the dentist figure out where you are, but he can also find that out himself if necessary. Most of this information is also helpful for the forms you will need to fill out on your first day.
After your paperwork is filled and your examination is complete, you will then be able to start scheduling appointments to take care of outstanding dental work or routine cleanings. If for any reason you forget to mention anything during your visit, just call your dentist's office later and leave a message, or leave a note for yourself to bring up during the next visit.