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First appointment advice



Junior member
Jan 17, 2024
Long Island, NY
Hello all,

I'm gathering up the courage to finally take the giant step of making an appointment with a dentist after so long. Thank you to all who have contributed to this website, as the stories and supportive vibe has helped me to get to this point!
One of the things I read on here multiple times over is that finding the right dentist is the most important thing. To that end, I wanted to make an appointment or two with different dentists to see which one I trusted enough to use. My question is what would be a good way to handle that first visit? I'm just interested in feeling them out, since I think my biggest hurdle preventing me from getting in The Chair is trust. But I don't quite know what I could/should be doing/asking them when I get there to make the appointment not be a waste of either of our times. I don't think I'm ready for anyone to look in my mouth yet; what else can I do?

Any guidance would be appreciated.
Thank you!
@ChockFullONuts To be sure I understand you correctly, you are looking for an appointment where you can just talk to the dentist without getting in the chair, or having them look in your mouth? My advice would be to be sure to let them know exactly what you are looking for in advance, and tell them explicitly what you want, like if you want a first appointment just to talk. This page is also really good https://www.dentalfearcentral.org/help/first-appointment/
I guess I'm just trying to have a plan in place before I go; the advice given here is to have a "chat" with a potential dentist, but I'm not sure what that would mean from my end. I'm afraid that sharing my fears will push dentists away, since I've been told before that nobody wants the extra burden I bring with my fears: it's my problem, don't make it theirs. At the same time, how can I not bring it up? I just don't want the dentist to say "ok, what do you want to know?" and I don't have a response. I hope I'm making sense.
@ChockFullONuts I think that it is OK to tell the dentist, or the hygienist or assistant, who you would probably talk to before the dentist, that you have fears. When I went to the first appointment with my dentist that I am with now (with my teeth in pretty bad shape), I told the hygienist who took me to the room that I am afraid of dentists, and had a special fear of male dentists, and they didn't mind at all, in fact the dentist takes some extra pains with me because he knows, and did a lot of extra things to help me calm down during that first appointment, because she told him. I think a lot of people have these issues, and they hear it a lot from people that they have dental fears or phobia, and nicer dentists and staff try and help people deal with it, and don't treat it as an extra burden, they are actually really used to it. Aside from the topic of fear, when it comes to asking the right questions, it might help to get another dentist to talk about your teeth and what questions to ask, before going in for an appointment. Maybe Dr. Gordon could advise in the ask dentists forum. I often use telehealth dentists for advice, including about what to expect during an appointment, and what to watch out for or discuss. The telehealth services I use are Denteractive and The Teledentists.
@NervousUSA Thank you for the detailed and thoughtful reply. I will consider your advice. In the meantime I plucked up the courage and made an appointment for next week! I told the receptionist I have some fear and I found their office on the Internet, and many reviews mention nervous patients...she assured me I was going to the right place, which made me feel so much better.
@ChockFullONuts Good for you making an appointment! I like the sound of the reviews mentioning nervous patients and the receptionist's attitude, it sounds like this place very likely is accommodating and positive towards patients who are nervous or have dental fear. I am glad you had a good feeling about it too!