Do I really need to go to the dentist every six months? While the answer is not one-size-fits-all, this article is full of information that can help you make an informed decision regarding how often you should be going to the dentist.
The rule of thumb for how often you should go to the dentist is twice a year or every 6 months. However, multiple factors tie into the more realistic answer, including dental history, oral hygiene habits, and risk factors.
As many will say: it’s better to be proactive than reactive. In other words, those who go to the dentist regularly are more likely to catch onto potential problems sooner and use preventative measures than those who only go to the dentist when they’re in pain or notice a problem. Fixing the focus on preventing issues as opposed to repairing ones will, in the long run, save you time, money, and pain.
The CDC’s statistics from 2015-2018 show that 13.2% of children aged 5-19 and a whopping 25.9% of adults aged 20-44 have untreated tooth decay. Additionally, in 2019, only 64.9% of adults aged 18 and over had been to the dentist within the last year.
(who may need to go to the dentist more often than every 6 months)
Note: Consult with your dentist or dental hygienist to discuss your personal oral hygiene needs and determine how often you should go to the dentist.
- When you use tobacco products, the plaque build-up on your enamel becomes stickier and more prone to absorbing bacteria. This can lead to quicker cavities or put you at risk for periodontal disease (gum disease).
Those with certain medical conditions
- For example, a person with diabetes is likely to carry more sugar in their saliva. This excess glucose is the perfect home for bacteria and can lead to decay and periodontal disease.
If you already have gum disease or have a history of gingivitis
If you’re prone to excess plaque or tend to get cavities
- Reminder: even people with good oral hygiene may be more prone to certain things due to genetics.
If you historically have a weak immune system response to bacterial infections
If you have veneers or crowns
- Hormones produced throughout pregnancy can cause changes in the acidity of saliva, and increased food intake can lead to excess sugar in the saliva: both leading to a higher risk of cavities & gingivitis. More plaque and bacteria tend to harbor due to the natural inflammatory response.
If you suffer from dry mouth
- Saliva serves as a neutralizing agent to the acid in your mouth produced by bacteria. With a dry mouth, bacteria and acids gather up faster, leading to a risk of teeth and gum damage.
- Those who consume alcohol frequently are more prone to suffering from dry mouth and more dental issues.
Certain medications may lead to dry mouth. Consult with your doctor if you are experiencing this.
- Receding gums, dry mouth, enamel thinning are all dental problems that may come with age, leading to an increased risk of oral disease. Oral cancer is much more common for those aged 45 and over and twice as likely for men.
Other risk factors
Avoiding the dentist when a problem arises/dental anxiety
- Maybe you felt a tinge of pain, or you knew something was wrong but didn’t get it checked out right away. Unfortunately, oral problems often do not go away on their own. An achy tooth can quickly lead to a whole lot of pain and even an extraction. Dental issues can even lead to problems with your jaw and digestion.
Poor oral hygiene
- Not brushing your teeth twice a day and forgetting to floss occasionally puts you at risk of gingivitis and cavities.
- The food we put into our bodies directly affects our oral health. Without proper nutrition, vitamins, and minerals, the health of our teeth and gums is at risk.
Excess sugar can lead to tooth decay.
Stress & anxiety
- When our bodies are stressed, our body releases a hormone that inhibits the ability of our immune system to work correctly, lessening its ability to fight off infections. This means that even if you have a seemingly minor dental issue, it can quickly worsen quite fast.
Okay… so do I need to go to the dentist every 6 months?
In general, it’s okay to assume you should be visiting the dentist twice a year. However, if you haven’t been for a cleaning for a lengthy period, it’s important to schedule one and discuss with your dentist the next steps. Even with perfect teeth brushing, flossing, nutrition habits, it’s still important to go to the dentist. Make your dentist and hygienist aware of any medical problems or potential risk factors for poor oral health, and inquire how often you should be going. If you have any tooth or gum pain, it’s best to make an appointment as soon as possible. It is possible to reverse tooth decay when it’s still in the early stages- so be proactive.
At your cleaning appointment, a hygienist will first examine your teeth to determine any visual signs of decay or gum inflammation. They’ll then remove any plaque and tartar, which will help prevent cavities, avoid bacteria growth, and even keep your smile whiter with fresher breath! X-rays may be done yearly, depending on your specific needs and maintenance.
Polishing, flossing, rinsing, fluoride…
If you have good oral hygiene, it’s almost like a spa day for your teeth! So treat yourself to a healthy and happy smile- you deserve it.
Here at the Abington Center for Cosmetic & Family Dentistry, Dr. Charles Dennis and his team are dedicated to providing quality dental services. We understand that you have a busy life, so we choose to be open daily, Monday through Thursday, from 8 am to 5 pm, with Wednesday’s closing at 8 pm. Friday’s & Saturday’s are dedicated to providing appointments by emergency only.