If you haven't seen a dentist in a long time, you may be feeling nervous. Here are some ways to prepare so that you can minimize the stress.
Figure Out Payments
One of the first things to establish is how you're going to pay for your visit. This is a good time to call your insurance and ask specifically what dental coverage you have and if the dentist or dentists you want to see are in your network. If they aren't, ask for a list of which dentists your insurance will pay for.
Alternatively, investigate financing options if you're paying out of pocket. Dentists themselves often offer financing, so it's worth calling ahead to ask what their options are. You can even look for credit card offers for zero percent financing for a certain time period if you're confident you can finish paying it off in time.
Do Your Paperwork
When you're seeing a dentist for the first time in a while, you'll likely need to fill out some new paperwork that asks for your insurance information, health information, and any prior records. This can take some time, but if you already have an appointment, call ahead to ask if you can pick this up early or have it emailed to you so you can have the completed paperwork brought in for your appointment.
It also helps to call ahead to ask if you need to bring anything else. If you have prior dental records from another dentist, it can help to have those with you as well, so give yourself some time to get these records. Your dentist can likely request these records themselves if necessary, but having them ready for your first appointment can be very helpful.
Prepare For a Longer Appointment
Even if you're returning to a dentist you've seen before, the information they'll have about you will be years out of date, so they will need to perform a comprehensive dental exam. This involves x-rays and taking a close look at your teeth, often with basic tools. They will also likely have questions for you about your daily dental hygiene routine, if you've noticed any symptoms like bleeding gums, or if there's anything in particular you're worried about. Because of how much work needs to be done during this appointment, expect the appointment to run long.
Voice Questions and Concerns
Your initial appointment is the best time to bring up any questions or concerns you might have, so think ahead about what you might want to ask your dentist. For example, you can ask about any fears you might have about the process or tools or pain, or ask how your dentist specifically handles things you might need, such as root canals or fillings or even cosmetic procedures. This is a good time to talk about your specific needs and to determine how flexible and accommodating your dentist is. Knowing all of these things ahead of time and being on the same page with your dentist can help make the process less stressful and help future visits go more smoothly.