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Checklist For What To Bring To Dentist Appointment

You should bring all necessary documentation with you to the dentist so that you can minimize treatment delays and potential billing mishaps.


Checklist for what to bring to the dentist:

  • Photo identification such as your driver's license.

  • Insurance card or digital information.

  • Insurance subscriber's information.

  • Complete health history.

  • List of medications that you're taking.

  • Referral slips or reports.

  • Dental x-rays if they're taken within the last 12 months.

  • Treatment notes if you are in the middle of treatment.

  • Your wallet for payment.


We will explain the importance of all of these and why your dentist may need them. These are also all items that we require the new patients at our practice for the registration process.


Photo ID

Photo identification such as your driver's license or passport is required to show proof of who you are. Is your dentist supposed to believe you are who you say you are without evidence?


Acceptable photo identification:

  • Passport

  • Driver's license

  • State/City/Government ID


You may not believe it but there has been cases of people using someone else's dental insurance to receive treatment.


Insurance card

Remembering to bring your dental insurance card is probably one of the most important things to bring. Without it, you will not have any insurance coverage and you'll be forced to pay for the entire visit out of pocket.


What to watch out for:

  • Make sure it is your dental insurance and NOT your health insurance card.

  • You should have two separate cards, if you only have one, it should include "dental" on it.

We've lost count of how many times people present their health insurance card thinking it's their dental insurance.


Unfortunately, for some reason most employers seem to use a different insurance carrier for the dental vs medical. Although it would make everyone's life easier if they were the same.


Subscriber information

You may not be the primary member or subscriber for your dental insurance. Whoever is the one that is paying for the plan is the insurance subscriber. More often than not, it is either the spouse or the parents.


Necessary subscriber information:

  • Subscriber ID or member ID.

  • Their date of birth.


What to watch out for:

  • If there is only a group ID or group member ID on the card, you will need the subscriber's social security number.

  • The subscriber's SSN will be the subscriber ID if it is not listed on the card!


Tip: In our experience, Guardian and Metlife dental insurance have a tendency to use the subscriber's SSN as the ID.


Potential problems: We've had instances where the patient was unable to reach their spouse or parents because they didn't have their SSN. Since they weren't able to procure it, we weren't able to verify their insurance eligibility. The point is to be prepared beforehand!


Medical history

Please be prepared by reviewing your health history and all of your health conditions. You will need to fill out the health history form once you check in. There are certain medical conditions which require additional precautions prior to dental treatment.


Examples of medical conditions requiring precautions:

  • Blood clotting disorder. Bleeding risk for any procedures which induces bleeding such as extractions, deep cleanings, or periodontal surgery.

  • Premedication. Conditions which may require antibiotic prophylaxis prior to dental procedures due to risk of infective endocarditis.

  • Diabetic. Potential fainting if blood sugar is too low. Can also cause delayed wound healing.


Medication list

It is important to disclose all of the medications which you are taking. They may affect your dental treatment or may cause a drug-drug interaction which may result in an adverse outcome.


Examples of medications to watch out for:

  • Blood thinners. Requires a pause in medication prior to any surgical procedures.

  • Osteoporosis medication. Causes complications with tooth extractions.

  • Birth control. Antibiotics like rifampicin or rifabutin may decrease the effectiveness of your oral contraceptive.


The antibiotic and oral contraceptive relationship is something to be wary about. The good news is that your dentist doesn't prescribe the above two because amoxicillin is the workhorse.


Although in the past, there was speculation that amoxicillin could have affected it but research has shown otherwise. That means you don't have to worry about it.


Referrals

If your dentist appointment is with a dental specialist, you will need to bring the referral slip from your general dentist. Most specialists will NOT see you if you do not have a referral.


Dental specialists:

  • Oral surgeon

  • Periodontist

  • Orthodontist

  • Endodontist

  • Oral Pathologist

The two exceptions are pedodontists and prosthodontists who will often see you without a referral.


Dental x-rays

Your insurance will only pay for dental x-rays once a year or every 12 months. That means if you had them taken recently within the last year or so, you should try to have them transferred. If you don't, you may have to pay for new x-rays.


Bitewing dental x-ray
Bitewing dental x-ray

Your dentist cannot do a full oral examination without a complementary set of x-rays. They're not pushing it on you for no reason.


If you don't get your x-rays from your previous dentist ahead of time, it can be a source for delay in your appointment. We've seen it far too often. The patient is sitting in the waiting room, waiting for their previous dentist's office to email it over.


Of course, it isn't the old office's priority to do so because you're a patient that is leaving them. We've seen instances where it could take 30-60 minutes before they were finally emailed over.


Treatment notes

If you're coming in for a routine dental check up or cleaning, it isn't necessary to get old treatment notes from your last dentist. However, if you're switching over because you moved and you're in the middle of a root canal or implant treatment, you will need them.


Your new dentist needs to know what your last dentist did and where they left over. This is especially important for implants because each brand has their own proprietary parts that only work with themselves. Analogy would be how only iphones use apple chargers and is not compatible with usb-C.


Wallet for payment

Your dental visit may have a copayment so be sure to bring your wallet with your preferred form of payment. Most dentists will take cash, credit, or debit as a form of payment. Yes, they do make you pay upfront usually.


You do know that if you don't pay, your dentist can refuse to treat you right?


100 dollar bill
Money

Funny story: One time we had someone walk in without their wallet and they wanted to make an appointment for a check up. They had no photo ID nor insurance information on them but they wanted our dental receptionist to look up their information for them.


How on earth are we supposed to do that with zero information from him? As you guessed, we told him to get himself together and come back when he's ready.


He was not ready to make an appointment today!


Don't let that person be YOU.

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About the author: Dr David Chen, DDS

Hello, I'm Dr Chen and I'm an actively practicing dentist in Long Island City, NY. I graduated from Columbia University College of Dental Medicine in 2016 but prior to going to dental school I was already working in the dental field. It's been more than a decade since I first got to know dentistry and let me tell you, time flies by quickly. Since then I've developed a fondness for writing, which is how this all got started!

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Medical Disclaimer:

This blog is purely meant for information purposes and should not be used as medical advice. Each situation in your mouth is unique and complex. It is not possible to give advice nor diagnose any oral conditions based on text nor virtual consultations. The best thing to do is to go in person to see your dentist for an examination and consultation so that you can receive the best care possible.

The purpose of all of this oral health information is to encourage you to see your dentist and to inform you of what you may expect during your visit. Due to the unfortunate nature of dentistry, there isn't really any true home remedies that will get rid of dental problems. Roughly 99.99% of them require in-person intervention by a healthcare professional.

Hint: That is the reason why you can't eliminate seeing dentists in your life!

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