Lately, I’ve been losing sleep over our patients who have delayed their six-month check-up. I worry because, when patients do come in late, after months away from the dentist, they are experiencing problems like dental pain, jaw muscle pain, observing their teeth shifting position, cracked teeth, discomfort with their old dentures, and gum bleeding.
They used to come in and we would find their gums were healthy, their teeth were relatively plaque-free, they didn’t have cavities, their jaw muscles weren’t tender, and the wear on their teeth as normal. But a lot has changed during the pandemic.
What might have been minor dental problems if caught within the normal six-month check-up cycle has advanced into larger problems. Now we have more work to do to return mouths to their former optimal health. I’ve had to discuss extensive restorative options with some of my long-time patients who were doing well before the pandemic. And I don’t want your next dental appointment to be an emergency appointment…if this can be avoided.
I am more determined than ever to treat every patient with total focus. When you come in, you will get my absolute undivided attention as we talk about what is going on in your life, in your mouth, and what you care about, worry about, and feel you need to do. This is a judgment-free smile zone. What matters most to you will matter most to me. But it is also an honesty zone. I will fully inform you about the status of your oral health.
I am slowing down with each check-up to make it a comprehensive exam as I do with every new patient. This means that when you schedule your check-up, you can expect it to take a few more minutes than your return visits in the past. I will be spending more minutes conversing with you and more minutes examining your mouth, head, and neck to get a complete and thorough picture of your oral health. I and my Hygienist will be looking at your mouth with NEW EYES as if we are seeing you for the first time.
In addition to our visual oral exam and palpating your jaw and neck muscles, we will be measuring gum pockets, even if we did it the last time you were here. This doesn’t mean you will have to have new x-rays or impressions if you have had them in the last year or so, but if more recent x-rays and models will help with making a correct diagnosis and optimal treatment plan, then, of course, I will recommend them.
The bottom line is, I will be dedicating more time to your visit. I am not raising my fee to do this. I am taking the check-up visit as an opportunity to intentionally slow down and address your concerns about your mouth and dentistry. This is what is in your best interest. You just have to “own up” that is time for a check-up and schedule that visit.
COVID-19 measures are securely in place in our office. We will talk to you about these when you make your appointment. If you have a scheduled appointment and are not feeling well or have been in close contact with someone who is sick, we will happily reschedule your appointment. We’re doing our best to keep this “health train” on track and everyone safe.
With warm regards and sincere good wishes for you and your family,
Jamie J. Alexander, D.D.S. and the Entire Dental Team