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What Is a New Patient Exam?

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New Patient Exams

When patients visit a new dentist for the first time, or any medical practice, they’re introducing themselves. Our team needs to get to know more than your name to offer care. New patients might expect to fill out a new patient form before sitting in the dentist’s chair, but what happens after the initial meet and greet?

Before moving on to routine dental cleanings, new Symmetry Dental patients can expect a new patient exam. The good news is it’s not a written exam, and patients won’t be tested on dental trivia. Instead, it’s a chance for our team to learn about your dental health. Then, we can personalize our care for your unique dental hygiene and treatment needs.

So what can patients expect during a new patient exam?

What to Expect at a New Patient Exam

At a new patient exam, dentists evaluate the health of the patient’s entire oral system, which includes much more than your teeth! New patients can expect dentists to examine:

  • Bone health (face, jaw, mouth region)
  • Gum health
  • Jaw, joints, & muscles
  • Medical history
  • Neck (glands & lymph nodes)
  • Teeth position & bite
  • Soft tissues (throat, tongue, mouth, lips)

Regular dental exams also check many of the same areas and tissues, but a new patient exam provides a baseline. By knowing where the patient started, dentists have a point of comparison when changes occur.

Oral Cancer Screening

Dentists check soft tissues as part of an oral cancer screening. Oral cancer can be successfully treated when detected early. Dentists examine the inside of the mouth (and lips) for signs and symptoms, including changes to tissue texture, colour, and sensitivity. Our dentists will also examine tissues outside the mouth, including around cheeks and throat, to feel for abnormal lumps.

Gum Disease

Gum disease (periodontal disease) typically develops slowly, and patients may not know they have it until symptoms progress. The condition is reversible when treated early enough, but it can cause:

  • Cavities
  • Changes to bite/alignment
  • Gum swelling, bleeding, or pain
  • Receding gums
  • Tooth loss
  • Bad breath or bad taste

Gum disease also increases the risk of heart disease, respiratory disorders, and strokes. Therefore, dentists check for indications of gum disease to help patients implement treatment before the disease causes irreversible damage.

Evaluating Previous Dental Work

Like your natural teeth, restorative services (including fillings, crowns, and bridges) can wear over time or degrade because of plaque and tartar. Therefore, dentists check any previous dental work during a new patient exam. The exam also helps our dentists determine whether repair or replacement is necessary.

A female dentist checking a male patient's teeth.

Diagnostic X-Rays

Dental x-ray exams, also known as radiographs, are pictures of the teeth, bones, and soft tissues. X-rays provide a more in-depth look to help our dentists diagnose issues affecting the teeth, mouth, and jaw, including cavities and bone loss.

X-rays can also help with treatment planning. The images offer more information about dental health problems below the surface of gums, teeth, and other oral structures.

New patients take x-rays to provide dentists with accurate, up-to-date pictures of oral structures for reference. It can also be crucial in monitoring oral health changes.

Do New Patient Exams Include A Dental Cleaning?

Routine dental visits include a dental exam and a cleaning in a single appointment. However, a new patient exam thoroughly evaluates your oral health and does not leave time for a dental cleaning. Therefore, if you’re due for a cleaning, you’ll need to book another appointment after the new patient exam.

After the Exam

After the dentist has completed the examination and learned about your medical history, the dentist will explain their findings and discuss a treatment plan. During this discussion, patients can ask questions about their oral health. Then, with input from the patient, the dental team can develop a personalized plan for the patient’s dental health, comfort, and aesthetics. 

Some common topics discussed after a new patient exam may include:

  • Bite or alignment problems
  • Gum disease or tooth decay
  • Jaw or joint concerns
  • Preventative treatment options

After the new patient exam, the dentist can understand the patient’s unique dental health needs and recommend a plan based on their lifestyle. 

One example is treatment for bite or alignment problems. A patient with crooked teeth or bite misalignment might benefit from orthodontic treatment, such as Invisalign. Teeth position and bite issues affect the function and appearance of teeth. The dentist can develop an orthodontic treatment plan that works best for the patient based on their health and comfort level.

Oral health care is a personalized service. New patients are encouraged to discuss treatment concerns with their dentist. A good relationship between a patient and a dentist begins with the first appointment. We’re your partners in oral health care, so we welcome patients to talk openly about concerns and ask questions.

Make Us Part of Your Team!

Our dental team is passionate about oral health, and we’d love to share that passion with new patients! Symmetry Dental strives to encourage a partnership, ensuring our patients feel informed about their dental decisions and are comfortable asking questions about their oral health.

We’d love to meet you! Book an appointment today with our Calgary dentist to meet your new team.

Dr. Saleema Adatia, Calgary dentist

Written by Dr. Saleema Adatia

Dr. Saleema Adatia earned her Doctorate of Dental Medicine (DMD) from Tufts University in 2006. Since then, she’s been committed to serving her patients’ needs with the utmost passion. Dr. Adatia has owned and operated Symmetry Dental since 2013 and has integrated high-quality services with friendly care into the philosophy of the practice.

With a goal of providing the best patient care possible, Dr. Adatia ensures that her practice stays up to date with the latest dental technologies and techniques. Her personal passion for dentistry stems from a desire to create a positive impact on each patient’s quality of life. Whether that means treating people’s pain or restoring function and beauty to their smiles, the goal is always the same: to help make patient’s lives just a little bit better by working together in harmony.

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