Depending on a patient’s needs, the first appointment can vary depending on the complexity of a case. A patient simply looking for a dental home that has minimal treatment needs could begin with necessary x-rays and cleaning and possibly some treatment in the first day if desired. Most patients, however, that are aware they have complex dental needs, are usually looking for a general idea of what they are facing.
As a courtesy, our doctors may offer a brief complimentary visual exam and consultation. This allows us to get a “snap shot” idea of what a patient may need along with typical fees associated with treatments that may be possible options. Should a patient wish to receive detailed treatment plan options with fees, the necessary x-rays, impressions, and possible cone beam CT scan will be needed in order to provide a definitive diagnosis and treatment plan. A wax up is another diagnostic procedure that may be required to decide if a plan is possible and that a patient would find it pleasing. A wax up is when stone models (copies) of the patients teeth are modified and changed using wax to show what can be done and what can not. This would necessitate a second appointment.
In the first appointment, it would be helpful for the patient to bring the following:
- Any x-rays taken by a previous dentist, if applicable. Most always, new x-rays will be taken before beginning any treatment
- A list of medications you are presently taking.
- If you have dental insurance, bring the necessary completed forms. This will save time and allow us to help you process any claims.
IMPORTANT: All patients under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Please alert the office if you have a medical condition that may be of concern prior to treatment (i.e., diabetes, high blood pressure, artificial heart valves and joints, rheumatic fever, etc.) or if you are currently taking any medication (i.e., heart medications, aspirin, anticoagulant therapy, etc.).
If your dentist or physician has taken x-rays, you may request that they forward them to our office. These x-ray records provide valuable history and may, in some cases, suffice as records which can be used to aid in diagnosis and development of a treatment plan. We do, however, have x-ray capabilities and equipment in our offices and in most cases prefer that we take our own radiographs.
Computer Topography (CT) SCAN: We have our own in-office cone beam CT scanner. It is a special type of scanner that reduces the amount of exposure compared to traditional hospital CT scans.This scan allows us to generate a 3 dimensional rendering of a patients upper and lower jaw. A traditional 2 dimensional x-ray only allows for bone height evaluation but not bone width.
The images acquired in a single scan are coupled to several software programs which enable us to evaluate your dentition, bone, and other related facial/skeletal structures in all three dimensions. We can rotate your image reconstruction to allow us to see your condition from any angle/view. When planning for dental implants, this type of diagnostic information is essential when evaluating potential dental implant sites. Bone quality and quantity can be evaluated. We use this extensively prior to surgery to aid in developing the correct and most simple approach as well as to size the implants we’re using and determine their exact placements. We can avoid areas where bone is non-existent, or deficient. We can further determine the need for bone grafting. The scan does not, however, replace the need for traditional individual x-rays used to diagnose decay and other pathologies.
The software allows the virtual placement of over 20 different implant systems and their available sizes. When we do operate we already have great familiarity with your structures before we begin. The CT scan allows us to better develop and plan your procedure, ensuring that we have all the correct equipment and dental product we intend to use. This all translates into predictable success and minimal time required for completing the procedure(s) as well as reveal any additional costs.
The CT scan is archived and can be burned to a disc with an embedded viewing platform. This can be valuable in the future in that any new condition arising, or injury, etc. can be compared to your historical scan which aids the practitioner (medical or dental) in identifying any significant changes which could have occurred since the scan was performed.
The viewing software allows us to evaluate and accurately measure bone height and width as well as accurately locate major nerves, maxillary sinuses, adjacent roots, nasal passages and irregular bone contours. This software also contains a library of different dental implant companies and all their sizes which can be “virtually” placed knowing precisely what size implants can be utilized and whether or not any grafting might be needed.
Digital x-rays: Our office utilizes digital x-rays allowing less exposure to the patient and aiding in measurements and image modification to detect abnormalities. Digital imaging also allows an immediate image rather than waiting on development as with traditional film x-rays. With all images being digital, it allows access from multiple sites in the office and out.
Film x-rays: Film x-rays have been around for decades and are being replaced by digital. The radiation exposure is higher for film and requires developing (more time). The film does have some benefits. Films are less cumbersome and thus more comfortable than bulkier digital sensors and measuring on film is at least more consistent than digital. A digital film properly calibrated however will be more accurate.