Find Out What to Expect On Your First Dental Visit

The visit to a new dentist can be a little nerve-racking. As a new patient, you’ll likely encounter a lengthier visit, giving you and office staff ample time to build a health history and get you established in the system. At Smile by Shields Dentistry, you’ll have the opportunity to meet the front desk staff, hygiene team, and dentist, Dr. Tiffany Shields.

Smiles by Shields welcomes patients looking to work with a holistic, biological dentist to address their current dental issues or long-term health problems, as well as, patients looking for a new dental home for themselves or their family. Here are some things that new patients can expect during a first dental visit.

New Patient Forms

On a first visit, all new patients are required to complete a new patient packet and an x-ray release form. Ideally, patients should complete and return these forms at least two days prior to their scheduled appointment time. If this is not possible, arrive approximately 20 minutes early to your appointment to have time to complete these documents before seeing Dr. Shields. The new patient packet and x-ray release form can be accessed on the website for convenience.

Oral Exam and X-Rays

New patients at Smiles by Shields Dentistry begin with a comprehensive oral exam. Staff will obtain a complete health, dental, and lifestyle history to help your dentist learn more about your overall wellness. Dr. Shields will then ask about any current oral health problems you may be experiencing, including what symptoms you may have, and how long you’ve had them.

Next, new patients receive a close screening of every tooth to obtain baseline information. This information can be used as a reference for tooth changes during future visits. During an oral exam, your dentist will perform an evaluation of the occlusion (how your teeth come together), a thorough examination of the periodontal (gum) tissues, and a thorough head and neck exam. You’ll also receive an oral cancer screening with Oral ID.

Finally, your dentist will take digital x-rays of your teeth to gain a clearer picture of your teeth and gums. Dental x-rays can help the dentist see the condition of your teeth, tooth roots, jaw placement, and facial bone composition. Your dentist will also take a 3D cone beam image of your teeth and the supporting structures. Intraoral photos are often taken using a small camera that moves comfortably in the mouth.

Importance of Regular Dental Visits

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends visiting your dentist at least once a year, even if you have dentures or no natural teeth. Routine dental checkups can have many benefits, including the following:

  • Detect tooth decay early. Dentists rely on comprehensive oral health exams and dental x-rays to look for signs of tooth decay or cavities. The earlier that decay is found, the less costly and painful cavities are to treat.
  • Identify gum disease. Many people with periodontal (gum) disease do not even know that they have it. Catching this condition early on can prevent complications like recurrent gum abscesses, receding gums, and loose teeth.
  • Find the source of bad breath. Many people suffer from bad breath, a condition that can be caused by dry mouth and other health conditions. Your dentist can often help target the cause and recommend treatment.
  • Review oral hygiene. Your dentist will discuss your oral hygiene routine and can help you build better dental hygiene habits.
  • Diagnose early-stage oral cancer. Your dentist will check your mouth for signs of oral cancer, such as mouth sores that don’t heal, discolored patches in the mouth, and mouth pain. This is especially important for patients that smoke or use tobacco products.

Make An Appointment

Smiles by Shields Dentistry is a holistic dentistry practice offering family dental services in Jacksonville, FL., including exams, cleanings, fillings, crowns, and dental implants. For more information about treatment options or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Shields, reach out to Smiles by Shields Dentistry at (904) 731-0777.


Contact us

Smiles by Shields
3940 San Jose Park Dr.
Jacksonville, FL 32217