Definition and Overview

A dental follow up is an appointment with a dentist following a dental procedure. The goal is to ensure that the treatment was successful and that no complications have occurred.

Who Should Undergo and Expected Results

A dental follow-up makes up the final part of a dental treatment plan. During this visit, the dentist will evaluate the results of the recent dental procedure to determine whether the goals of the treatment were successfully met.

During the consultation, the dentist will:

  • Check the patient’s recovery
  • Ensure that the treatment went as planned and yielded successful results
  • Check for signs of complications and perform treatment, if necessary
  • Make the necessary adjustments depending on the procedure performed
  • Give patients a chance to ask any questions or voice out any complaints they may have with regards to their recent procedure
    Dental procedures that require a dental follow-up include:

  • Dental implant placement

  • Orthodontics
  • Gum surgery
  • Dentures
  • Oral surgery such as wisdom tooth extraction
  • Root canal treatment


If the dentist is satisfied with the outcome of the treatment, no other follow-up visits or procedures will be scheduled.

How Does the Procedure Work?

A dental follow up is usually scheduled a couple of weeks after a dental procedure so there would be enough time for the swelling to subside, gums to heal, and the treated teeth or implants to settle in. This is performed to check for any complications that can result in potentially lasting damage to the patient’s teeth.

During the checkup, the dentist will check the treated teeth to evaluate how the affected area has healed and how the treatment has worked so far. He will compare the actual results with the goals outlined in the treatment plan. He will also look for signs of a potential problem, such as:

  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Persistent pain
  • Recurrent pain


In most cases, a single follow-up visit is sufficient, and patients only have to visit the dentist again at least once every six months for the standard preventative procedures. However, there are some procedures or dental appliances such as orthodontics that need to be adjusted at certain intervals, thus requiring several follow-up visits. Also, if there are any problems with the results of the procedure or if any signs of a complication are evident, then the patient will need to undergo treatment again.

Possible Risks and Complications

If no complications are found, a dental follow-up simply comprises of a physical examination of the treated area or the repaired tooth. Thus, the visit itself is safe, painless, and poses no risks and complications to the patient. When properly scheduled and successfully implemented, a dental follow-up can protect patients from the risks and complications commonly associated with unsuccessful dental procedures.

References:

  • American Dental Association
  • Chow AW. Infections of the Oral Cavity, Neck, and Head. In: Bennett JE, Dolin R, Blaser MJ, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 65.
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