7 Tips For Visiting The Dentist In 2021

Regular visits to your dentist are just as important as going to your physician for medical checkups. Instead of waiting for toothaches and other problems to show up and make you suffer, dropping by the dental clinic at least once a year is recommended. It allows your dentist to identify a problem even before it could require costly dental treatments.

7 Tips For Visiting The Dentist In 2021

Like the medical sector, the dental industry was also affected by the pandemic. After all, most dental procedures require proximity—with dentists usually poking and probing on their patients’ oral cavities. Dental clinics had to close down for a few months as the pandemic caused fatalities to reach alarming numbers.

In recent months, dental facilities have opened to accommodate essential visits. Otherwise, non-emergency cases were dealt with safely through virtual appointments.

Here are some of the things you need to know about dental visits for 2021 and beyond.

What’s New As Far As Dental Visits In 2021 Are Concerned?

The pandemic has changed the way things are done in dental clinics and outside. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued some guidelines on the proper management and prevention of COVID-19 in dental clinics and visits.

Below are the key points stated in the said guidelines:

- Dentists and professionals are required to properly assess whether the case is urgent or non-urgent, and therefore can be postponed at a later stage.
- Dental professionals are urged to administer treatment only after checking the risks involved in postponing a patient’s treatment, the risk to all the staff involved in treating the patient, as well as the risk of transmission.
- The dental staff is urged to wear personal protective equipment (PPE), and they should provide them to patients as well. In cases where protective supplies become limited, they need to prioritize according to the needs.
- The staff should always be updated and check with local health departments for any changes, advisories, and new guidelines.
- Dental facilities are urged to implement tele-dentistry and triage procedures. As part of a telemedicine procedure, tele-dentistry can be done in a few ways; either by using photos and videos, or even the telephone to initially screen patients and get more information about their case.
- Patients should also be informed to limit the number of persons accompanying them. If you’re a mother who’s taking your child to the dentist, it's definitely fine.
- In cases of in-person dental visits, patients and their companions must wear face masks and be checked for their temperatures before being allowed to receive any dental service.
- Ensure visitors are not displaying signs of COVID-19 infection or were not suspected of having had the virus.
- Patients and dental staff alike should practice proper cough etiquette and regularly wash or sanitize their hands.
- Dental practitioners should wash hands and put on a PPE, which includes a dental suit, gloves, goggles, mask, or respirator.
- Barriers shall also be installed and items that can’t be washed or disinfected properly should be removed.
- Apart from wearing PPE and masks, physical distancing should also be practiced inside the clinic.
- Dental facilities are strongly encouraged to take care of their staff by conducting tests and discouraging them from going on duty if they don’t feel well. They should be recommended to stay home and conduct self-quarantine. In cases of infection among its staff, dental clinics are requested to follow the agency’s Interim U.S. Guidance for Risk Assessment and Work Restrictions for Healthcare Personnel with Potential Exposure to COVID-19.
- Dental treatment should be done to only one patient at a time, as much as possible.
- As part of occupational safety, all dental staff should also be informed about when and how to use PPE, as well as why it's important, and the proper disposal of the equipment. Dental health staff are likewise trained how to handle dental emergencies while ensuring that the risks of exposure to infection remain minimal.
- All dental instruments and equipment, including the whole facility, should be sterilized and sanitized before and after use.

With the following protocols in place, visits to the dental clinic are minimized and restricted to patients with urgent cases—although dental practitioners have the autonomy to screen individuals. While there are fewer people in clinics at any given time, visits are seen to last longer. Stringent screening procedures are causing patients to stay longer for treatments.

Preparing For A Dental Visit For 2021

Before your dental visit, it may be best to conduct a self-assessment. The general rule of thumb is that unless you need surgery, are bleeding, or have severe health or dental issue, you may not need to visit a dentist right away.

1. Determine What Your Oral Problem Is
Of course, only dental professionals can correctly assess your situation. However, you should have an initial idea about your issue and how it fits in the scale.

For instance, non-urgent and minor issues such as tooth sensitivity to temperature, cosmetic-related oral problems, dry mouth, or canker sores, can be dealt with at home. For moderate oral concerns such as bleeding gums, difficulties swallowing or chewing, adjustments to your mouth appliance, a weird or bad taste in your mouth, or problems with your jaw, you may have to undergo online dental consultation first.

2. Find The Best Dentist
If you haven’t been to a dental clinic at all, the best way to identify a good dentist is to ask for referrals from your family and friends. Otherwise, a quick search on the internet will do you good.

What Qualities Should You Look For When Choosing A Dentist?
You may want to contact up to three dentists just so you have options. Check on the following elements of the practitioner’s dental practice:
- Experience
- Expertise
- Clinic location
- Extra services (i.e., emergency, weekend appointments, etc.)
- Professionalism
- Membership with the American Dental Association (ADA)
- Payment modes accepted
More than professional accomplishments and affiliations, getting the right dentist encourages you to establish good relations. Choose the dentist whom you feel most comfortable with. Check out https://familydentalhealth.com/ and other similar sites to get yourself familiar with good dentists.

3. Prepare Your Questions
After narrowing down your choices, talk about your oral problems with the dentist or the representative. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. By speaking to them about your issues, concerns, and questions, you can measure their expertise, quality of customer service, and specializations.

Take note that if you’re a new patient, a new record will be opened for you. Important information like medical history, insurance details, preferred payment mode, medications being taken, and other clinical data may be asked.

7 Tips For Visiting The Dentist In 2021

4. Check Your Consultation And Treatment Costs
Dental services vary from state to state, as well as the exact procedures involved. You can ask for an estimated dental cost either through the dentist’s website or via chat in their social media accounts. You can also do it the traditional way; ask by picking up the phone and calling the dentist’s office. These Charlotte NC dentists also recommend asking if they offer flexible payment plans. This is especially important if you don't have insurance.

Also ask the dental assistant about some details regarding the dental procedure, if you’re going to have one. Ask how long the procedure lasts on average or if you’re going to be impaired and need someone to drive you home. You can also ask about the risks and side effects involved in the procedure.

You may want to have an average cost for dental procedures, so you’ll have an idea if your dentist of choice is charging too much for a specific dental treatment plan.

5. Confirm Your Appointment
Whether through phone, email, or chat, confirm your appointment at least 24 hours before the scheduled visit. This is important especially if you’re required for an in-person visit, as time schedules need to be strictly obeyed during this pandemic period. However, if you arrive late and lose your turn, you’ll need to reschedule your appointment and wait for days or weeks, even months to secure another visit.

6. Plan Your In-Person Dental Visit
If you’ve qualified for an in-person visit, remember the CDC guidelines mentioned earlier. Always wash or disinfect your hands, wear a face mask, and make sure that you’re by yourself or have only one companion. If you’re going to have a tooth extracted, you’d probably need to have someone to drive you home. Make sure that your plus one adheres to the same safety protocols.

Arrive about ten minutes early during your scheduled visit. More than this and you might end up waiting for long periods inside the clinic, which may not be a good idea.

During your visit, the dental staff will ask you about your medical history, check your oral health, and assess whether you need a dental X-ray or other procedures. Your dentist will also check your gums and your throat for possible signs and indications of oral cancer.

In all of these procedures, your dentist and the assistant are supposed to wear masks and other protective equipment such as gloves and goggles.

7. Get A Virtual Dental Consultation
If you think your issue can be addressed without the need to visit the clinic or if you have an emergency problem and can’t travel immediately, have yourself checked remotely. Thanks to tele-dentistry, you can connect with a dentist anytime, anywhere. You only need to have a portable smart device and an internet connection.

Communication can be done via photos and video conferencing. A live video allows your dentist to see you and assess your case as if you were inside the clinic. After checking you up, your chosen dental professional can dispense prescription medications, convey treatment instructions, and manage follow-ups.

If videoconferencing isn’t possible, you may transmit high-quality photos of your dental concern and answer a few questions. The photos and your answers will be reviewed by a dentist, who will later respond to you with the recommendations.

What To Expect After Your Dental Exam?

Your dentist should be able to perform a diagnosis and recommend an appropriate treatment plan for your condition. This may or may not include taking oral medications.

If a major procedure is required, such as oral surgery, our dentist should be able to explain clearly why. Ask for other alternative options and the potential impact for each course of action, including the risks, advantages, and downsides. Your dental professional should also be able to answer all your questions and address your concerns.

After the exam, the dental assistant should also be able to schedule your next visit.

What To Do In Cases Of Dental Emergencies?

Dental emergencies include loss of a tooth, a serious oral injury, and a chipped tooth due to falling or being hit. Having a chronic and persistent toothache may also be considered a dental emergency. In these cases, always contact your dentist who should be able to address your needs as soon as possible.

How Often Do You Have To Go To The Dentist?

People always recommend that you visit your dentist at least once a year. Some may say that having a bi-annual dental schedule is more appropriate. Actually, there’s no wrong or right answer for this one.

The frequency of visits is mainly dictated by your dentist and hinged on your overall health condition. Some serious illnesses and diseases can severely affect your oral health. Certain types of cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, pregnancy, and cardiovascular diseases are included on the list.

Teach your children the importance of proper oral hygiene by keeping their mouths clean and getting regular dental visits.

How To Make The Most Out Of Your Dental Visits?

Apart from brushing up on your oral health maintenance and care, make sure to stick to a dentist once you’ve found the right one. Build a good relationship with the dental professional so you’ll feel more relaxed and less anxious about specific dental procedures and available treatment options.

When you develop good relations with your dentist, you’ll be more open to discuss your concerns and fears, allowing you to receive the appropriate dental care and treatment you deserve.

How To Maintain Oral Health?

Speaking about oral hygiene, here are some of the steps you can take to maintain your pearly whites sparkling clean and free from diseases:
-Practice healthy oral habits such as brushing our teeth and flossing.
- Swish on a mouthwash to completely remove food debris.
- Eat healthily.
- Limit intake of foods and beverages containing high sugar levels.
- Replace your toothbrush every three months or as soon as they show signs of being worn out.
- Don’t smoke.
- Have regular dental appointments.

The Bottom Line

The pandemic has compelled dental facilities to implement changes to prevent the spread of the deadly virus. From virtual consultations to distancing and donning PPE, these measures are done to provide quality dental care while keeping everyone safe.

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