Preparing for your appointment

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Most dentists recommend regular checkups to identify cavities and other dental conditions before they cause troubling symptoms and lead to more-serious problems. The sooner you seek care, the better your chances of reversing the earliest stages of tooth decay and preventing its progression.

If you're experiencing pain or sensitivity in your teeth, make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment, and what to expect from your dentist.

What you can do

  • Make a list of all medications, as well as any vitamins or supplements you're taking. Be sure to let your dentist know if you have any allergies to medications or if you've ever had a bad reaction to local anesthetics.
  • Write down questions to ask your dentist.

Some basic questions to ask your dentist include:

  • Do I have a simple cavity, or do I need a crown or a root canal?
  • How many visits will it take to treat this tooth?
  • Will the pain go away after today?
  • What can I take for the pain?
  • How long should I wait before I eat or drink after this procedure?
  • Are there additional steps I can take to prevent future cavities or to keep early tooth decay from getting worse?
  • Does my local water supply contain added fluoride?
  • Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take home with me? What websites do you recommend?

What to expect from your dentist

Your dentist may ask:

  • Do extremes in food temperature or sweet foods cause you pain?
  • Does biting down make your pain worse?
  • How often do you brush your teeth? Do you use a toothpaste with fluoride?
  • Do you floss regularly?
  • Do you eat a lot of sweets or drink sugary beverages or sodas?
  • Have you noticed any dryness in your mouth?
  • What medications do you take?

What you can do in the meantime

If cavities and tooth decay are causing pain, sensitivity or discomfort, the first thing to do is make an appointment with your dentist. While you're waiting for your appointment, you can take some steps to control your pain. For example:

  • Take over-the-counter pain relievers, if your doctor has said it's OK for you
  • Use an over-the-counter anesthetic specifically designed to soothe painful teeth
  • Thoroughly clean all parts of your mouth and teeth — don't avoid painful areas
  • Use warm water to brush your teeth
  • Use a toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth
  • Avoid foods or beverages that are hot, cold or sweet enough to trigger pain
Apr. 28, 2011