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What Should I Do if I Haven’t Been to the Dentist in Years?

Help! What should I do if I haven’t been to the dentist in years??

Maybe it was a bad experience. Maybe it was several moves in a short period of time. Maybe life just got busy. There are many reasons that keep patients away from the dentist for an extended period of time. 

Unfortunately, the longer we go between dental visits, the greater the likelihood that we will develop dental issues like decay and gingivitis, which can lead to dental pain, infections, and even tooth loss. Sadly, this discomfort and pain can keep people away even longer out of fear of what will be discovered at the check-up, compounding the problem.

If this sounds like you, we encourage you to try to focus on all the benefits that will come from getting back into a regular routine with your hygienist and dentist, as well as improving dental habits at home. Having a healthy, pain-free smile is possible! So if you haven’t seen the dentist since, say, the Badgers won the Big 10 championship (!) read on for how to craft a plan to get you back to enjoying good dental health.

  • Step 1: Take a breath.
  • Step 2: Talk to your insurance.
  • Step 3: Visit your dentist for a comprehensive exam and cleaning.
  • Step 4: Get out your calendar.
  • Step 5: Anticipate brighter smiles!

Step 1: Take a breath.

Life happens. What’s important is that you’re taking steps now to gain a healthier smile. Dwelling on the past can’t change it, so let’s make a plan to get you feeling better! Chances are, your imagination has made going to the dentist seem a lot worse than it actually will be. Once you get the process started, it’ll be much easier to keep the momentum going.

Step 2: Talk to your insurance.

Before you have your first visit with the dentist, it’s helpful to call your dental insurance company. Find out what coverage you have for treatments such as periodontal care like root planing, as well as fillings and dental crowns. Knowing what services your insurance covers  ahead of time will help you feel more prepared to discuss a plan of action with your dentist. 

Step 3: Visit your dentist for a comprehensive exam–it’ll be okay!

Now it’s time for probably the hardest step, meeting with your dentist. You can do it!

When you schedule your initial appointment on the phone, let the office know how long it’s been since your last appointment so that they can schedule extra time with the dentist if necessary.

At your appointment, you’ll meet your hygienist and dentist. They’ll discuss your dental and medical history, as well as any concerns you might have. They will also take x-rays and complete a comprehensive exam including an oral cancer screening. 

Next, your hygienist will clean your teeth. If it’s been a long time since your last cleaning, it’s likely that there will be quite a bit of plaque to remove. You might experience some discomfort and bleeding due to tender gums. But once the plaque is removed, practicing good oral hygiene, including brushing twice a day and flossing every day, will help keep those gums healthy between visits. 

If you need additional treatments, such as periodontal treatment, fillings or crowns, your dentist will lay out a treatment plan, discuss your options, and provide an estimate of cost. Be sure to ask any questions throughout the process! We consider ourselves to be partners with you in taking care of your teeth. It’s important to us that all of our patients understand the services they are or could receive, as well as we are proposing certain treatments. 

Step 4: Get out your calendar.

At the end of your appointment, you’ll want to make sure to make those additional appointments for any further dental treatment, if needed, as well as get your sixth month check-up. Scheduling your sixth month cleaning right away is the easiest way to stay on track with your dental care.

You’ll also need to get into a good dental care routine at home. Writing it down in your calendar or setting a reminder on your phone can help reinforce the importance of taking time to brush and floss every day.

Step 5: Anticipate brighter smiles!

You can feel proud knowing that you are taking steps to pursue a stronger and brighter smile both now and in the future. And this is so important because the world needs your smile! 

So give us a call today and let’s take that first step together toward a smile you can be proud of!

Periodontal Care in Madison, Wisconsin

To schedule your cleaning and comprehensive exam, please contact us today. Affiliated Dentists provides family, cosmetic, and restorative dentistry in Madison, Wisconsin.

What Should I Do If I Haven’t Been to the Dentist in Years? brought to you by Dr. Mark Gustavson  


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