Back in the Chair: What to Expect When Returning to the Dentist

Posted on June 9th, 2023 at 9:46 AM
Back in the Chair: What to Expect When Returning to the Dentist

Haven’t been to the dentist in years? It’s more common than you’d think. Whether it be scheduling issues, not being able to afford it, or a dental anxiety or phobia, many people will put off going to the dentist, often for years at a time. 

No matter the reason, if you’ve put off going to the dentist, it’s crucial to schedule an appointment as soon as possible. Regular appointments keep your teeth clean and help to find and treat any dental issues before they get worse. What might have been a cavity found at your next appointment could develop into an infection that requires a root canal if you skip three years. 

Even knowing how important it is, you may experience some anxiety before returning to the dentist after several years. While this is natural, managing your expectations can help you process and overcome these fears. Here’s what you can expect from your first return appointment. 

Bleeding Gums

Even if you have been making regular dentist appointments, you’ve probably experienced gum bleeding at least once. When you don’t floss for an extended period of time, your gums become more sensitive. This causes them to bleed slightly the next time you floss. If you haven’t been to the dentist in several years, your gums are more likely to bleed. Bleeding gums can also be a sign of periodontal (gum) disease — just another reason to schedule regular dentist appointments! 

Extended Cleaning

Even if you brush twice a day at home, skipping out on professional cleanings can lead to plaque buildup on your teeth. This means that your cleaning may take longer than normal if you haven’t been to the dentist in several years. 

Oral Examination

Once your teeth have been cleaned, the dentist will give you a thorough inspection. They’ll check for cavities, signs of periodontal disease, signs of oral cancer, and any other issues they can find. If you haven’t been to the dentist in several years, there’s a good chance you’ll have at least one cavity. Don’t be afraid — the dentist is there to help, and it's much better to have it taken care of now than allow the tooth decay to progress. 


There are many dental issues that can’t be seen with the naked eye. In addition to their oral examination, your dentist will also want to take x-rays to see if you’ve developed any deeper issues since your last appointment. 

No Judgment

One thing that prevents people from returning to the dentist after a long time is fear of judgment. It’s a natural concern — after all, your dentist will immediately know you’ve been putting them off. If you have any issues, they’ll know that you could have prevented them by scheduling regular appointments. It makes sense that they’d judge you accordingly. Right?

Wrong. While there are lots of things you should expect when returning to the dentist after several years, one thing you should never expect is for your dentist to judge you. Dentists are trained professionals, here to help you take care of your teeth. A good dentist will never judge you for returning after several years — if anything, they’ll be glad you’ve taken the first step in taking back control of your dental health. 

Rest Easy with Dr. Mahoney and Sleep Dentistry

Returning to the dentist after several years can seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. At Sleep Dentistry, we put our patient’s comfort first. With the help of Dr. Kevin Mahoney, Erie’s only certified dental anesthesiologist, you can sleep through your procedure, whether it be a simple filling, a root canal, or other treatment. If you’re feeling anxious before or after your appointment, don’t worry — Dogtor Gizmo and his brother Gadget, our licensed dental therapy dogs, are here to offer their support. Contact Sleep Dentistry and schedule your appointment today.