You do not have to fear the dentist. Educate yourself on what to expect at your routine dental check-up so that no surprises come your way.

What to Expect at Your Routine Dental Check-Up (Costs Included!)

Did you know that up to 80% of American adults have some form of dental anxiety?

If you had bad experiences in the past or rarely go, you might have more fears about going in for a dental check-up appointment. 

Instead of letting fear and anxiety take control, you can discover the process and anticipate what will happen. 

Keep reading if you want to learn about what happens at a dental check-up so that you can feel prepared! 



Aside from finding dental offices in the area, the first part of your dental check-up will be to stop at the reception desk.

Some dental offices have the technology to check in for appointments online, but most people still go up to the counter. When you arrive a few minutes early to your appointment, head to the desk and let them know you’ve arrived. 

The receptionist may have you fill out medical paperwork so they can update your charts. During this time, they may also discuss what will occur during the appointment. 

Get Your Teeth Cleaned

As soon as the dental team is ready, they will call you back into a room and get you in the chair.

Although the dental chairs can be intimidating for people with dental anxiety, try to relax. The dental hygienist will begin by cleaning your teeth so that the dentist can take a good look at your mouth. 

The dental hygienist will use an electric toothbrush, toothpaste, and a sucking device. As they clean each tooth, they will rinse your mouth and ensure that you don’t swallow the toothpaste. 

After the brushing is complete, the hygienist will use small tools to scrape tartar off the surface of your teeth. They will end by using normal floss. 

Get X-Rays Taken

Unless you have recently gotten a dental x-ray, they will likely do one at the appointment. 

The dental hygienist may take x-rays before or after the cleaning, but they are only looking at the structure. X-rays help dental teams identify signs of decay, teeth formation, and development. It only takes a few moments to get them done and you typically don’t have to leave the room. 

Many people don’t like x-rays since they can cause discomfort. Before taking the x-rays, the technician or hygienist will cover your body with a lead apron to protect your chest. 

To capture the photos, you must hold a piece of film in between your teeth, it can be large and poke your gums. Try to stay calm and remember that the process will only take a few moments. 

Dental Exam

Your dental visit is important for cleaning, but getting a check-up from the dentist is essential.

The dentist will come to visit you once the hygienist completes the x-rays and the cleaning. They will examine each tooth to ensure that it’s properly growing and doesn’t need treatment. During this time, the dentist will also review your x-rays and dental history. 

The hygienist will report any concerns to the dentists so they can provide a second look. If treatment is necessary, the dentist will discuss the next steps.

It’s common for the dentist to use metal tools, floss, and mirrors to get a better look at your teeth. They are well-trained and can spot decay or infections quickly. The dentist may also examine your neck, throat, and gums to make sure no other issues are occurring. 

If you have any concerns, talk to the dentist about them so that you aren’t uncomfortable. 

Schedule Next Appointment 

After you’ve been checked by the dentist and hygienist, you can discuss the next steps and schedule your appointment.

During this time, you will need to pay for your services, unless your insurance will get billed first. Routine costs are free for certain insurance plans, so you’ll have to check with yours to discover if there is a copay. Most copays for dental appointments are less than $50. 

The receptionist will follow dentist guidelines and plan for your next visit. If you need to come back to get a cavity filled or do other dental work, they can help. Your overall dental check-up cost should be affordable and the team can help you with a payment plan if you don’t have the money. 

If you don’t need to attend another appointment, you can schedule your next cleaning. 

Attend Your Follow-up Session

If you need to attend a follow-up session for further treatment, you should expect to pay more.

Most health insurance companies don’t cover all the costs of dental treatments. Depending on the type of treatment you need, costs can vary. If you are getting a cavity, for example, it should cost less than $200 for a silver filling, but composite costs more. 

Luckily you will know the purpose of your appointment before having to go. You can contact your insurance company or dental office to get more accurate costs of treatment. 

Are You Prepared for Your Dental Check-up?

Whether you are going in for your first dental check-up or go twice a year, it helps to prepare for your appointment. 

Knowing what to expect for your dental visit costs and routine can relieve anxiety. No matter what office you visit, they will likely follow a process like the one mentioned above. The hygienist will help you get comfortable while they clean your teeth and prepare for the dentist.

Don’t be afraid to discuss any pain or irritation you’re experiencing with the dentist so that you can get proper treatment.  

If you want to learn more about dental visit costs and maintaining your health, check our blog for the latest info! 

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