What can I expect at a new patient examination?

Upon arrival at our office you will be greeted by our receptionist.  If you have pre-filled out and brought with you registration and health history forms downloaded from this website, the receptionist will next discuss with you our patient privacy practices in compliance with HIPAA regulations and verify your insurance coverage, if applicable.  When brought into the patient treatment area, Dr. Knox will typically greet you personally and introduce himself, and ask what your top dental issues of interest are.  Reflecting the importance of medical issues, we will go through your health history form point by point to find out which of your medical conditions impact how your dental work can be performed, and maybe even discern medical conditions you didn't even know you had.  We would then take radiographs (x-rays) as needed.  If you have recent radiographs from another office we will try to use those and minimize the radiographs we take.  At this point the actual examination begins.  The first part of the exam is called the "head and neck" exam, where we look at structures on the exterior for abnormalities, including skin, bone, muscles, joints, sinuses, glands, and lymph nodes.  Then we start to look inside the mouth and evaluate the "oral soft tissues" and structures such as lips, tongue, hard and soft palate, pharynx and tonsils, and floor of the mouth.  Next is a screening of the periodontium, the bone and gums that support and hold in place the teeth.  After that we chart all previously performed dental work.  We document bite and orthodontic status, and note miscellaneous conditions of the teeth such as discoloration, wear, mobility, and sensitivity.  Finally after all of that we do what many typically think of as a "dental exam", we read the x-rays, then check each tooth one-by-one, putting all the information together to develop a treatment plan. (Whew!)

One item to note is that we - unlike most dental offices - typically do not clean your teeth on the first examination visit.  Why?  Because the amount of time needed to clean people's teeth can vary widely.  If we were to schedule a cleaning appointment before diagnosing how much time would be needed to clean your teeth and you ended up needing more that a typical amount of time, you'd have to come back for another appointment to finish the cleaning.  We don't want people to have to make extra trips.

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