Checklist: What You Should Bring For a Dentist Appointment

Written & Reviewed by Dr David Chen

Going to your dentist appointment is not the same as a trip to your corner bodega where you can be in and out in under 10 minutes.

First of all, it is a healthcare facility so there are a lot of requirements and documentation which needs to be verified before you can be seen. If you forget to bring these necessities, you’d be forced to reschedule and you’d have wasted your appointment.

blank checklist

We’ve put together this guide which will serve as a checklist to ensure that you will be seen by your dentist on the day of. It will save you time and prevent a major headache.

What to bring to dentist appointment:

  • 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.

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?

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 for dental. 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.

What you need from the subscriber:

  • 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 suscriber 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:

  • Taking 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 it could’ve affected it but research has shown otherwise.


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 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.

x-ray of teeth with periodontitis
X-ray of teeth with severe periodontitis

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.

100 dollar bill

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

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.


1311 Jackson Ave
Long Island City, NY 11101

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If you're in NYC and in need of a dentist, our clinical dental practice, 1311 Jackson Ave Dental is accepting new patients.

Our purpose at afterva, is to encourage you to seek in person care with a doctor. It's not meant to be a substitute for medical advice.

A lot of nuances cannot be detected without an in-person clinical exam, which means it is near impossible to diagnose and treat virtually.

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