Taking care of your teeth entails more than just brushing and cleaning them. For maximum care, it is important that you visit your dentist for checkups regularly. People have been advised for decades by their dentists to schedule dental visits after every six months.
However, a new study suggests the time between checkups can vary from three months to about two years, depending on how healthy a patient’s teeth and gums are as well as their risk for future problems.
Where Did “Check-up Every 6 Months” Originate From?
There are many theories about from where the “6-month dental check-up” recommendation originated. Some say it dated back to the 18th century while others state that 50 years ago, dental examinations of new army recruits indicated that teeth and dental health were in such bad shape that best practice dental guidelines was required to help rectify the situation.
One other theory suggested that Pepsodent toothpaste ads run in America introduced the advice to appease the dental industry who were fearful of lost income due to better standards of dental health as a result of using toothpaste!
While the exact origin may never be agreed on, we do know that back in the 1950s in western civilisation, only a small number of people took proper care and maintenance of their dental health. Since there was no set guideline on how often one should visit a dentist, most of the dentists focused their treatment on fixing dental problems and not preventing them.
It is during this period that the health and dental organisation decided that the need for basic criteria for preventive dental care was necessary. Since there was no such evidence to support their standards for preventive dental care, the organisation made an “educated guess” recommendation.
The set standard stated that people needed to visit their dentists after every six months for cleaning and checkups, to help in preventing gum disease.
What are The Flaws Associated With It?
Although this proved useful for most people, planning dental visits should be founded on a person’s oral hygiene, overall health and habits.
While you may clean and floss your teeth regularly, visiting your dentist frequently might help identify problems you might not feel or see. Some conditions such as gum disease, oral cancer and cavities do not become visible till they get to more advanced stages.
Visiting your dentist routinely allows them to identify the initial signs of the disease. This way, they can take care of the issue before it gets out of hand.
Are Regular Visits Necessary?
Keeping your teeth healthy is vital to your health. The best way to take care of your dental health is by visiting your dentist frequently for a dental checkup. If your teeth start developing problems, they can impact your life quickly.
Catching a dental problem in the early stages can help treat it fast, reduce the amount of pain, the cost and make the procedure quite easy. The best way to catch a problem early is by having regular dental checkups.
The ADA (American Dental Association) has not provided any specific amount of time that one should take before having their teeth checked up. This is because dental health differs from one person to the other.
However, depending on your overall oral health, general health and your risk factor, your dentist will be able to advise you on how often you need to visit their office.
For instance, a patient with a lot of cavities and tartar will need to visit their dentist more frequently for dental cleaning and checkups. However, an adult with good oral hygiene may need to visit their dentist only once or twice a year.
Be Aware Of Any Changes In Your Dental Health
Other than your regular dental check-ups, it is vital that you schedule a dental visit whenever you spot changes in your dental health, especially if it involves pain. Some of these problems include bleeding, swollen gums, persistent tooth pain, sensitivity to hot or cold meals, or even chipped teeth. These issues need to be checked by your dentist once you notice them. Always remember that when it comes to your dental health, letting an issue fester can make it worse.
How Soon Should You Visit The Dentist After Recently Completed Dental Work?
After you have had your dental work completed, your dentist may ask for some checkup and follow-up appointments to make certain that the treatment or equipment was installed properly and is working as efficiently. Whether it involves being fitted with dentures, getting a crown or having your cavity filled, follow up appointment gives the dentist a chance to check and ensure the dental treatment yields desirable results. The more complex your completed course of dental treatment was, the more important it is to attend for follow-up visit(s). One very important consideration is the checking and balancing of your bite after any dental treatment is completed
People who are well-thought-out as high risk need to see their dentist more often, depending on their health requirements and recommendations. Here are a few individuals that need to see their dentists more often due to changes in hormones, health or habits.
Tobacco has a tendency of increasing your risk factor causing a severe gum disease also known as periodontitis, and tooth decay. These conditions are caused by certain ingredients in cigarettes and the dryness in your mouth that is prompted by smoking. When your mouth is relatively dry, the bacteria on your teeth are not adequately cleaned. While quitting smoking altogether is highly recommended, your dentist will provide you with various ways to care for your dental health.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, Pregnant women need to see their dentist more often since the spike of pregnancy hormones may cause inflammation of the gums also known as gingivitis, sensitivity, increased tooth decay among other dental conditions. Hence, it is crucial that you speak to your dentist regarding any changes you may experience. In severe cases, an increase in your oral infection due to pregnancy may lead to preterm labour. Morning sickness, with its acid reflux, is a cause of moderate to severe enamel erosion and this needs to be monitored and remedial action for strengthening the enamel taken.
If you are being treated for cancer, you may have to visit your dentist often to check for various issues. Most people with cancer suffer oral health issues such as dry mouth and infections. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial research suggests that you consult your dentist if you have been diagnosed with cancer before starting your chemo. In most cases, chemotherapy causes stiff jaws and dry mouth, which may impact on the quality of your life.
People who have diabetes have a higher risk of fungal infections, gum disease or other oral issues. Oral surgery wounds take longer to heal in diabetic patients, so practising prevention is crucial.
Your dental health is closely linked to your heart, and visiting your dentist regularly reduces your chances of stroke or heart attack. Inflamed gums are the primary cause and point of entry of bacteria into our bloodstream, affecting all organs and overall health.
Have You Tried Our Free e-Consultation Service?
If you are worried about a dental related issue or have questions about any of the treatments we offer, please contact us using our new free e-Consultation service. One of our highly-qualified team will respond to your query as soon as possible. Our e-Consultation service is live 9am – 6pm Monday to Friday.
If you would like to schedule an in-person consultation at Savina Dental, please book your appointment using this form.
Savina Clinic – Dental & Implantology Centres are friendly, state-of-the-art practices in Malta and Gozo dedicated to comprehensive quality dental care. Savina Dental is an innovative dental practice in Malta and prides itself on the high-quality customer service, low waiting room times, attention to detail and the advanced dental technology at their disposal.
Dr Joseph Xuereb
Dental & Implant Surgeon. Principal
Savina Dental Clinics