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THE NEXTDDS Student Ambassador Blogs

1st Patient? No Problem !

 Permanent link   All Posts

Emma J Guzmán, Next DDS Ambassador, University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine 


Are you stressed about having your first patient? Are you not confident in your abilities to conduct the procedure? No worries! Remember a few key things-> you learned all the procedures and practiced them so whether or not you feel like it, YOU ARE READY!

Be confident in your abilities and make sure you don’t show your patient when you are not sure about something. Stop, take a breath and ask your instructor if you need help.

Preparation is key in every patient visit and once you complete these steps you will have no troubles during your first patient visit.

Call you patient and schedule the appointment. 

During this first interaction besides asking them to come in, you can get a feel for what your patient’s personality is like. How did they answer the phone? Did they seem indifferent or excited about coming in? Did they want to get off the phone quickly or did they want to speak to you for a while?

The answers to these questions can help you determine the type of person you will be dealing with.

Evaluate patient charts and radiographs.  

Look at the previous procedures your patient had done, check their periodontal status, restorations and caries risk assessment.

This information gives you a general feel for what your patient’s oral health is like and will give you a baseline at the beginning of the appointment to know whether or not the patient’s oral health has improved or worsened.

Looking at the radiographs will also give you a clue of the patients health and knowing when the last radiographs were taken will prepare you in anticipating whether or not you will have to take radiographs during your appointment.

Prepare yourself for the appointment. 

Now that you have information on your patient, you must make sure you know the sequence of the exam and how each procedure is done.

The anatomy and findings will be different in each patient but knowing the general sequence of the exam will help it run more smoothly.

Read a lecture or watch a refresher video of the head and neck, extraoral, intraoral and cranial nerve exam.

Make sure you know what instruments to use for each surface, etc.

Day before appointment. 

Have you clinic bag ready with all the materials you may need

Blood pressure cuff, mirror, pen, pencil, patient goggles, etc

Day of appointment. 

Get to clinic early and set up you station with ALL of your supplies

You DO NOT want to interrupt the appointment to go get supplies.


Get your patient from the waiting room, have a short conversation to get a feel for their mood and explain to them what you will be doing during the appointment.

Follow the order of the appointment that you previously prepared for and ENJOY performing Dentistry!

After the appointment. 

Thank patient for coming in and personally bring them to the business office if that is not done before the appointment. Make sure that they have their parking pass.

Ensure all findings and next appointment are included in paperwork.

Treat yourself for surviving your first patient

Note: Certain details are specific to UBSDM but you can alter anything to work you the clinic at your school