One of the main questions regarding oral health is how often should you go to the dentist. While there isn’t a straightforward answer, there are a couple of factors that can determine your need for a visit. Most oral care experts recommend that you have a check-up and teeth-cleaning every six months, while others suggest that you schedule an appointment annually. For people with ongoing oral health problems, a frequent visit might be more appropriate.
Since everyone has different oral care needs, it’s hard to provide a clear-cut answer. Thankfully, there’s plenty of research available regarding dental check-ups and oral health. Let’s take a look at what the evidence says for a more detailed conclusion.
What the evidence says
There have been plenty of studies about the frequency of dental visits and how it correlates with oral health. The findings reveal that a period of six months is the ideal timeframe for a dental checkup. This is because dentists can detect oral health issues at an early stage and perform preventative care or treatment with greater efficiency. Of course, this won’t apply to everyone and these types of recommendations are based on evidence plus the dentist’s professional experience.
For patients with more complex needs, a three-month period is the most ideal timeframe. On the other hand, people with excellent oral health may even go up to two years as the longest interval between their dental check-ups. It all comes down to individual needs and what the dentist recommends after the patient undergoes an initial check-up.
In 2010, the National Dental Telephone Interview survey revealed that only 55% of adult Australians had gone to the dentist in the past 12 months while 73% of children aged 5-11 had a visit. Children, in particular, visit the dental clinic more frequently to develop healthy oral care habits at an early age.
The importance of regular checkups
Prevention is better than cure and like with most medical applications, the same thing goes for oral health. Your teeth are made to last for a lifetime, but due to factors such as diet, hygiene, trauma, and smoking, you may encounter oral health problems that aren’t immediately visible. For example, it is possible for a tooth abscess to exhibit no visible signs unless detected through a dental x-ray. This is why regular checkups are important for the prevention of oral health problems as well as maintenance.
Regardless of frequency, it’s a good idea to visit your dentist at least twice a year. This will lower your risk of developing dental problems and ensure your teeth are in excellent condition. During a dental checkup, the dentist will examine your teeth and look for signs of cavities, plaque, and tartar buildup. Then, your gums will be checked using a special tool that measures the depth of the spaces between your teeth and gums.
After the checkup is completed, the dentist will now proceed with teeth cleaning. Teeth cleaning (also known as oral prophylaxis) is done to remove plaque and tartar from your teeth’s surface. Plaque is a sticky, yellowish film that forms between the teeth and the gumline while tartar is a crusty material that forms due to plaque buildup. A scaler is used to remove these bacterial films and prevent the onset of cavities and gum disease.
What happens after a dental checkup
After you’ve finished your dental checkup, the dentist will provide you with a set of instructions to maintain your oral health. The secondary purpose of dental visits is to remind you of proper oral care practices, even if they don’t spot any problems. They may advise you to make changes in your diet to preserve tooth enamel or switch to an electric toothbrush for better teeth cleaning. Adhering to the dentist’s instructions will go a long way towards keeping your gums and teeth in great shape.
If the checkup reveals findings of an oral health problem, your dentist will schedule a future appointment(s) for your treatment. From there, the dentist should be able to determine the frequency of your visit.
Taking care of your teeth
Some people end up leaving with a false sense of security after a dental checkup. While you may have had your teeth cleaned and the dentist has ruled out any potential problems, that doesn’t mean you should feel complacent about your oral health. Brushing twice a day, flossing in between meals, cutting down on smoking, and eating a well-balanced diet are some of the best ways to keep your teeth strong and healthy.
At the end of the day, there’s really no exact answer as to how frequent you should be going to the dental clinic. Only a dentist such as Dentist Joondalup will be able to give you an exact timeframe once you’ve had an initial checkup. If you’re afraid of going to the dentist, don’t be. Their job is to help you maintain a healthy smile and they won’t judge you if you have oral health concerns. Along with proper oral care practices, regular trips to the dentist ensures that your teeth will last for a lifetime.