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Don’t Skip that Trip to the Dentist! Your Health Depends Upon It

If you’re wondering just how many times a year you need to see the dentist for a check-up and cleaning, you’re not alone. It can be confusing with new reports being released and guidelines that seem to contradict each other. Some people visit once a year, others twice per year, and some even more frequently than that. Still others skip the dental visit altogether. So, which dental visit schedule is right for you?

Good Oral Health = Good General Health

Until the latter half of the 20th century, there were no guidelines for how often you should see a dentist. Dental examinations of people entering the military in WWII showed that Americans’ teeth were in pretty bad shape. Few people really took care of their teeth and dentists were focused on fixing problems, rather than preventing them. Now we know that oral health is linked to general health, and dentists play a much larger role – not only in preventing oral health problems, but also in addressing an array of other health issues. There are many risks associated with poor oral hygiene such as gum disease, cavities, infections and worse, but these risks can most often be entirely averted with just two yearly teeth cleanings.

Even if you take excellent care of your teeth and gums at home, you still need to see your dentist regularly. Regular dental visits are important because they can help spot oral health problems early on when treatment is likely to be simpler and more affordable. They also help prevent many oral problems from developing in the first place. Visiting your dentist regularly is also important because some diseases or medical conditions have symptoms that can appear in the mouth.

Recommended Dental Visit Schedule

Even with the knowledge that regular dental examinations and good oral hygiene can prevent most dental diseases, 100 million Americans still fail to see a dentist each year. Whether you are 8 or 80, you should see your dentist twice a year. When your dentist sees you regularly, he or she is in a good position to catch oral problems early. For instance, your dentist can catch gum disease when it’s still reversible, or cavities when they are small and are more easily treated. Some people may need more frequent visits, especially those with a high risk of dental disease, including:

  • Smokers
  • Diabetics
  • People with current gum disease
  • People with a weak immune response to bacterial infection
  • People who tend to get cavities or plaque buildup

If you’re prone to periodontal problems, you may require a check-up and cleaning every three to four months. These more frequent cleanings remove plaque buildup, the daily debris that we keep under control with proper brushing. Plaque can encourage the growth of harmful bacteria that cause periodontal or gum disease, an infection of the tissue that holds your teeth in place. With time, teeth may loosen and be in danger of falling out. Smoking, systemic diseases including diabetes, pregnancy, and the use of oral contraceptives can all increase the risk of gum disease. If your gums bleed when you clean your teeth, or are tender, swollen or red, see a dentist immediately.

Talk to your Dentist about What’s Right for You

Most dental insurance policies provide for at least two dental check-ups and cleanings each year. But, even if your policy does not cover two dental visits per year, it isn’t wise to let your insurance company dictate your dental treatment. Ask your dentist for his or her recommendation on the number of visits you need each year. With growing evidence linking oral health with general health, only you and your dentist can determine how many visits are best.

Good Oral Hygiene: The Key to Preventing Problems

Maintain your oral health in between dental visits by brushing twice a day and flossing once per day. These two habits are essential to fighting tooth decay and gum disease. It’s important to keep your dentist informed of any changes in your overall health as well. Schedule your appointment with The Schiff Dental Group today!