Visiting the dentist for a cleaning and checkup about twice a year is important in order to keep your teeth in good shape and to ensure any problems are detected early. A good dentist and hygienist will do a thorough job before sending you on your way. However, there are some things that you can do, as a patient, to get more out of your dental visits.

Brush your teeth first.

Yes, the hygienist will be cleaning your teeth. However, the focus of their cleaning session should be to remove tartar, the hardened form of plaque, from along your gum line and the edges of teeth. They will definitely remove newer plaque, if needed. But if you arrive at the dental office with your teeth as clean as you can get them, they won't have to waste time removing plaque and will be able to spend more time on the tartar. Brush, floss, and use mouthwash before your dental appointment.

Be honest about your oral care habits.

Your dental hygienist will probably ask you how often you brush and floss. They may ask you how long you spend brushing or what kind of toothpaste you use. Some people do not answer honestly because they are embarrassed. But remember that it's your dentist's job to take care of your teeth and that they will not be judgmental of anything you tell them. Be honest in answering these questions. If you haven't flossed since your last dental appointment, say so. If you tell your dentist you floss every day and they are noticing a lot of tartar between your teeth, they may assume you have a more serious problem — whereas if they know the plaque buildup is just from failing to floss, they'll know they just need to recommend you floss more.

Tell the dentist about ongoing health problems and medications.

You'd be surprised what conditions are related to dental health. For example, excessive plaque buildup and heart disease often go hand-in-hand. Some medications may make you more prone to bleeding during your dental cleaning. Make sure you tell your dentist about any ongoing health conditions you have, and about any medications you take — even if you think something is irrelevant. It's better to share too much and let your dentist filter out the extra information than to hold anything back.

Share your concerns.

Your dental appointment is also an opportunity to ask your dentist and hygienist any questions you may have about dental health or dental care. If your mouth is sore after brushing, tell your dentist and ask them why. If you are worried that you might not be brushing enough, bring this up. No question is too silly or unimportant, and no worry is too silly to share. You never know what concern of yours could actually be a sign of a bigger ongoing health problem, and sharing your concerns about teeth care could allow you to improve your habits and enjoy better health in the future.

Be on time.

Your dentist likely has a busy schedule with lots of patients to see each day. Make sure you are on time for your appointment. This way, your dentist will be relaxed and able to take their time in treating you, rather than having to rush through and get to other patients. Leave early in case you hit traffic along the way.

By following the tips above, you will get more out of your dental appointment. You may only have a half-hour or so in the dentist's office twice a year, but with the strategies above, you can really make that time count. 

Contact a clinic like RTC Dental for more information.