How often should I visit the dentist? The general answer you’ve probably heard before is “once every six months” or twice a year. However, that rule doesn’t always apply to everybody.
People with problems in their teeth or oral health (teeth decay, gum disease, infections, etc.) will obviously need to visit the dentist more often than those with healthy teeth and gums. Also, how often you should visit the dentist will also vary depending on different times of life. In the teenage years, for example, teeth are generally less vulnerable, while children around the ages of 6-7 years old and young adults may need more frequent checkups.
However, even if your teeth and gums seem healthy at the moment, you might still wonder how often you should make the visit to the dentist. In this guide, we will discuss all the possible factors that might affect the answer.
Regular Dental Visits and Professional Cleaning
As mentioned, since dental and oral health varies greatly from person to person, there is no “one size fits all” amount of regular dental visits as the consensus.
The American Dental Association (ADA), however, recommends two annual visits for people with healthy teeth, and at the very least, once a year. For people with healthy teeth and mouth, regular dental visits mainly involve professional dental cleaning (to clean areas that are otherwise not properly cleaned by brushing and flossing) and regular dental checkup to detect potential issues as early as possible, ensuring you are on track for a healthy mouth.
Even when you don’t have any oral health symptoms, there’s always the potential that you are currently suffering from dental or oral health problems that only a professional dentist can diagnose. This way, regular dental visits at North York Smile Centre can help prevent problems and complications from developing,
Since many medical conditions and medications can also affect your oral/dental health, you might also want to keep your dentist informed of any changes in your overall health.
Potential Dental and Oral Health Issues
You should schedule a dental appointment when you notice any changes in your teeth and oral health issues, especially when it involves any discomfort, sensitivity, or worse, pain.
You should especially make haste to visit your dentist when there are any noticeable physical symptoms (visible cavity, chipped teeth, misalignment, swollen/bleeding gums, and so on). Remember that most—if not all—oral health issues can’t cure themselves, and will usually get worse with time. So, prioritize a visit as soon as possible in such cases.
Here are some common signs that you should see a dentist right away:
- Puffy, swollen gums that might bleed easily when you floss or brush your teeth
- You don’t like how your smile looks for one reason or another
- Teeth that are overly sensitive to hot and cold
- You are pregnant (to avoid infections that might affect the baby’s growth)
- Broken dental work (fillings, implants, crowns, dentures, etc.) or any issues related to the dental work
- Bad breath or weird taste in your mouth
- Pain or swelling in your face, neck, and/or mouth
- Difficulty/painful chewing or swallowing
- Medical condition such as diabetes, heart disease, HIV/AIDS, and various eating disorders
- Dry mouth (decreased/problematic production of saliva)
- Smoking/frequent tobacco consumptions
- Sore or spots that don’t feel right (painful) in your mouth
- Pain sensation or popping sound in your jaws when you open or close your mouth or when you wake up in the morning.
- Uneven bite
- You are currently taking specific medications that decrease saliva production and/or undergoing medical treatment such as chemotherapy, radiation, or hormone replacement.
Special Needs For Dental Work
When you have any dental work (dental implants, crowns, fillings, dentures, etc.), you may be asked to make follow-up visits and more frequent checkups to make sure the dental work is behaving as desired (or the dentist can make the necessary adjustment as required as soon as possible).
A follow-up appointment is generally necessary after a dental crown, filling, or any dental work procedures so the dental specialist can make sure the dental instrument is producing the desired results. You can also use these opportunities to ask any questions you might have about the newly implemented dental instrument.
More Frequent Visits for High-Risk Groups
These groups of people are more likely to develop dental and oral health issues (and complications), and thus may be required to see the dentist more often. The actual frequency might vary depending on the individual condition of oral health and other factors/recommendations.
Below are some groups who may need to increase the frequency of their dental visit to avoid potential issues and complications due to increased risks:
- Frequent smokers: smoking and other tobacco consumption activities will produce an increased risk of gum disease, tooth decay/cavity, and infections. This is caused by both the ingredients in the cigarette/tobacco and the fact that tobacco consumption also decreases saliva production. Saliva is your mouth’s natural defense system against bacteria, so when your mouth is dry (with little to no saliva), bacteria aren’t effectively rinsed from your teeth and gums.
- Cancer patients: chemotherapy and radiation therapy as parts of your cancer treatment will also decrease saliva production, among other side effects that might affect your oral health. If possible, see your dentist before your treatment begins, to prevent future issues, infections, and complications. Chemotherapy, for instance, can cause jaw stiffness and decreased saliva production, both can significantly affect your oral health and comfort. Your dental visit should be able to prevent any permanent damage related to oral and dental health during and after the cancer treatment.
- Pregnancy. There are two main reasons why a visit to the dentist during pregnancy is generally preferred. First, the spike of hormone levels during pregnancy can cause increased sensitivity, increased risks of tooth decay, swollen/tender gums, and so on. Pregnancy can also increase the risks of oral infections. On the other hand, oral infections during pregnancy can cause various complications that can even cause preterm delivery. So, call your dentist and make an appointment as soon as you confirmed your pregnancy.
Regular dental visits are important for two main reasons: spotting dental health and oral health issues as early as possible when treatment is more affordable and simpler. Second, professional dental cleaning performed during the regular visit can help prevent many potential problems and complications from developing.