What to Expect at the Dentist

If you feel anxious about going to the dentist, you’re not alone. Approximately 15% of adults are afraid of the dentist and even if you’re not one of them, it can still be a little nerve wracking to see the dentist, especially if it’s your first time at a new office. Knowing what to expect at the dentist can help ease your apprehension. The routine rarely deviates from office to office and if it does, they are just minor changes. You can also always call ahead for an office tour and advice! Here’s what you can look forward to:

Dental Costs and Paperwork

When you’re choosing the right dentist, make sure to check the office takes your insurance. Dental care can be expensive if you don’t take advantage of your health benefits! If you need more flexible options, there are places that offer financing and monthly payments, too. Call ahead of time to figure out what’s best for you. That way, you’ll be prepared and there won’t be any surprises when you get to the dentist’s office.

On the first visit to the dentist, it’s a good idea to get there 10-15 minutes early. Chances are you will need to fill out paperwork before you proceed with the dental exam. You’ll want to be prepared with your personal information (medical records and contact information) and financial/insurance information. Arriving early will also give you time to fill out your paperwork and ask questions at a comfortable pace.


After you finish your paperwork, you may spend some time in the waiting room. The next step is to take dental x-rays. These are necessary for the dentist to check the structural alignment and integrity of your teeth, jaws, and bones. It can also show whether you have any damage or diseases affecting your teeth. The doctor will use these x-rays to help evaluate your dental health and treatment.

The dental hygienist will sit you in a special chair for your x-rays. To protect you against any radiation, you will be given an oversized lead apron to absorb any rays before they reach. Dental x-rays emit so little radiation, they have no effect on the boyd, but the doctor will take precautions to ensure you safety anyway. Afterward, small mouth-sized pieces of film will be placed in the mouth. The x-ray will be positioned to take the x-ray, which will show up on your dental film. You can expect this process to repeat a few times until the dental hygienist gets the x-rays they need.

Dental Exams

After the x-ray, you might have to go back to the waiting room before your dental checkup. In this time, the doctor is reviewing your x-rays to check for any abnormalities to look out for during the dental exam. Once you’re back on the operating chair, the dentist will use a special light and small mirror to physically examine your mouth for any issues, like cavities or gum disease. You may need to go over your oral health history with the doctor, so he can be on the lookout for genetically predisposed conditions. Patients should see the dentist regularly, so any dental problems can be identified and treated in their early stages. The dentist can also let you know if you are at risk of any complications and how to prevent them.

Dental Cleanings

Finally, the dentist will begin to clean your teeth! While it’s important to clean your teeth on a regular basis, you might not be able to get as thorough of a cleaning as the dentist who has years of experience and professional tools to get your teeth squeaky clean! Here’s what to expect:

  1. Plaque & Tartar Removal: The dentist will start to clean your teeth by scraping away plaque and tartar. While plaque can be brushed away at home, tartar is hardened plaque that’s difficult to get rid of. If left on the enamel, it can lead to gum disease and cavities.
  2. Professional Brushing: After the dentist rinses away the plaque and tartar, you will receive a professional brushing treatment with a grainy, fluoride toothpaste to remineralize your teeth. This toothpaste will deep clean and polish the teeth, but it shouldn’t be used on a regular basis as that can damage the enamel.
  3. Professional Flossing: In order to remove any debris in between your teeth, the dentist will professionally floss the teeth. Don’t be alarmed if you bleed a little. This could be a sign that you have mild gingivitis and need to floss more regularly.

After the dental cleaning, you will be given a mouthwash to rinse your mouth. It’ll leave your mouth minty fresh!

If your dentist finds that you have a certain dental complication, such as a chipped tooth or gum disease, they may have to perform another procedure or schedule a follow up appointment. Otherwise, this is the end of a typical dental checkup! Most patients are recommended to see the dentist every 6 months, but it can vary with each individual. The best way to reduce the number of visits to the dentist is by routinely taking care of your teeth! Otherwise, you may be due back very soon.

At Dr. Erwin’s dental practice, we believe total wellness starts in the mouth. Our Glendale dentist is focused on providing quality, holistic dental care to patients, so they can have a strong, happy smile for their overall health. Give us a call today if you’d like to book an appointment!