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It may have been awhile since you’ve seen the dentist. If that has anything to do with anxiety or fear of the dentist, this short introduction to a typical dental checkup should put you at ease.

After being greeted by our smiling receptionist, the next person you’ll meet will be either the hygienist or CDA (certified dental assistant). They’re both trained to do the initial examination, prep work, and thorough cleaning of your teeth before the dentist sees you. Using special instruments, they will remove calcified tartar and plaque, then polish your teeth so that the plaque will not have an easy time adhering to the tooth’s surface. Also, these professionals are interested in getting to know your concerns and set you at ease. During their time with you, you should share with them anything that might help us better serve you. For example, if you have anxiety, or are on any medications we should know about.

If you haven’t had them taken in a while, dental x-rays will be taken so that the dentist can see internally and do a deep dive into your oral health. This will involve putting a piece of specially made plastic in your mouth and having you bite down to hold it in place while the x-ray camera is placed up against your cheek. You’ll be given a lead vest to shield you from the low level of radiation that is used. It should be noted that the levels needed for such a procedure are safe and will not cause negative side-effects.

Next comes the exam by your dentist. Your hygienist will have completed a perfunctory examination of your teeth and gums and will relay the findings to the dentist so that he may focus on any pertinent issues. The dentist will check your bite alignment by feeling your jaw bones while you bite down. he will inspect your teeth for damage and wear, and the gum line for signs of periodontitis (gum disease). Lastly, he will feel your neck and behind your jaw for oral cancer. Once all areas have been examined, your dentist will advise you about next steps. If you are orally healthy, this need only entail scheduling your next appointment.

If you’re past due on a dental exam, call Dr. Dennis Burrell and our team at Dr. Dennis Burrell and Associates, PC. You can make an appointment at: 253-564-7645, or come by our office in University Place, Washington.