Problems That Occur When You Miss Your Dental Follow-Up Visits

A date circled on a calendar

Many patients who need extensive dental work often feel that it is enough just to have the procedure done and be on their way. However, it is crucial that you go back to the office for follow-up visits to ensure that the work has been healing well and that any prosthetics are placed successfully. Major dental and oral-related problems can arise that may have an impact on your entire body’s health and wellness if you choose to miss your follow-up.

What is a Dental Follow-Up Appointment?

A dental follow-up appointment is scheduled after more extensive dental work, such as an extraction or dental implant surgery. The follow-up appointment is specifically designed to make sure that your teeth and mouth are in good health and that you’re healing well. Dental follow-up appointments may seem unnecessary, especially if you don’t think that there is a problem, but only a dental professional can tell you if your mouth and teeth are healing properly and that there are no infections or other issues present.

What Can Happen if a Follow-Up Appointment is Missed or Ignored?

Tooth decay

Missed follow-up appointments can potentially be harmful to your health. Minor issues that go undetected and unchecked can turn into major problems that result in the need for more extensive work. Some issues that can occur include:

Infections

There is always some risk of infection when undergoing oral surgery, but some patients are more susceptible than others. If you don’t follow the care instructions given to you by your dentist, the risk of developing an infection will go up. Your dentist will be able to tell if you have an infection at your follow-up visit and prescribe antibiotics or other appropriate medication to prevent further complications.

Dry Socket

After a tooth has been extracted, a very painful condition called dry socket can develop when a blot clot does not develop properly or dislodges before the healing process is complete. Follow-up appointments allow your dentist to check your progress in terms of healing and if there are any red flags that could be a sign that dry socket is developing. If you do have a dry socket, your dentist can start treatment right away.

Bone Loss

Whether a tooth is removed by a dental professional or has fallen out due to poor oral hygiene or a hard impact, the area of the jaw bone where the tooth was will become brittle and even start to shrink. If your dentist schedules a follow-up visit to discuss options that will preserve bone density, such as dental implants, it’s crucial to come back for treatment or your jaw bone can literally erode away. This eventually will affect your ability to chew and speak normally.

Shifting Teeth

Some patients don’t realize how problematic it can be when your teeth start to shift due to ill-fitting crowns, bridges, or failed dental implants. Although it’s not always a serious problem, shifting teeth can change your bite, creating too much pressure on some teeth. Conversely, some teeth may not be getting enough pressure, which could lead to the loss of bone density. It’s important for your dentist to make sure everything fits well during follow-up appointments by using x-rays and other methods.

Prolonged Orthodontic Treatment

Braces and corresponding orthodontic treatments are specifically designed to straighten the teeth and improve the look of a patient’s smile. Your dentist will need to make adjustments throughout the process to make sure your progress is on track. Without follow-up appointments, braces may not fit properly, treatment may be prolonged and further orthodontic issues can develop.

Only a dental professional will be able to tell you if your procedure was successful and if you’re healing correctly. Without this expert knowledge, you are putting your health at risk and could find yourself dealing with a painful and frustrating situation.

Common Procedures That Require a Follow-Up

If your dentist tells you that you need a follow-up appointment after a dental procedure, it is essential that you stick with it. Some of the most common procedures that require follow-up appointments are:

Dental Implants

  • Dental implant surgery can take several months for the titanium root to fuse naturally with the bone and routine follow-up appointments are necessary to ensure that the implant is healing correctly.

Extractions

  • Even minor teeth extractions may require a follow-up appointment to check on how well the gums are healing and any signs of infection or dry socket. In some cases, follow-up appointments involve removing sutures as well.

Braces and Orthodontic Treatment

  • Braces and corresponding orthodontic treatments require routine follow-up appointments to check for tooth alignment, progression and to make necessary adjustments.

Crowns

  • Just because you left the office with a temporary crown does not mean that the procedure is finished. A temporary crown itself is not meant to last longer than a few weeks and needs to be replaced with a permanent dental crown during your follow-up visit.

Emergency Dental Surgeries

  • Most types of dental surgery need to be met with a follow-up appointment, especially procedures that are considered a dental emergency. This is essential when it comes to checking for infections, detecting signs of dry socket and removing sutures. Depending on the situation, temporary treatments may have been used to stop the bleeding or pain, but a more comprehensive surgery will be needed to fix the damage completely.

Dentures

  • Patients fitted for dentures should go for follow-up appointments to ensure that the new plates are fitting well, feel comfortable, and have improved overall functionality.

Is It Too Late for a Follow-Up Appointment?

Some patients may wonder if it’s too late to go for a follow-up appointment. For instance, you might have gone for a new crown a month or two ago, missed the follow-up appointment and never bothered going back to have the permanent crown placed. In any situation, it is not too late to go to the office for a follow-up appointment to get the dental care you need.

The follow-up appointment is designed to check for complications and other oral-related problems, which can occur at any time after a more extensive procedure has been done. Dental professionals understand that things happen that may cause you to miss your appointment, but it’s so important to get the best care for you and your family. Contact your dentist today to schedule your follow-up visit to ensure your dental procedure was a success. If you’d like more information on follow-up visits, reach out to Absolute Dental dentist offices in Reno and Las Vegas, NV.

About the Author

Dr. Scott Futch

Dr. Scott F. Futch, DDS

Dr. Scott Futch has been a clinical director for Absolute Dental since April 2017. Dr. Futch graduated from University of Michigan School of Dentistry and completed his training at the Dawson Academy; a postgraduate multi-disciplinary education clinical research facility dedicated to the advancement of dentistry. Dr. Futch has had over 25 years of experience as a skilled clinician, mentor and coach.

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