If you’re like most people, then you probably don’t like going to the dentist. Even when it’s just a routine cleaning, many people avoid making dentist appointments—but that can be a big mistake. It’s much easier to prevent tooth decay and gum disease than to fix these problems, and yet many people go much longer between dental appointments than the recommended two visit per year. But is this even enough?
Why Do We Go To The Dentist?
Before we can dive into why the every-six-months rule might not apply to everyone, it’s helpful to know why we go to the dentist in the first place—and why the guidelines for how often we should have our teeth cleaned have become standard.
So why do we need to have our teeth professionally cleaned? During the day, the teeth and tongue begin to accumulate plaque. Plaque is a soft, sticky substance made up of bacteria that causes tooth decay and gum disease over time. Most plaque that forms on our teeth is brushed away along with food particles, but it’s difficult to get rid of all of it using just a toothbrush. Plaque that remains on the teeth after brushing eventually hardens into tartar which cannot be removed at home, but can be removed by a dental hygienist through a dental cleaning.
Besides removing plaque and tartar that cause tooth decay, regular dental checkups are essential for detecting problems early while they’re still easy to correct. Gum disease, for example, is easily reversed if it is in the first stages (gingivitis), but it can cause all kinds of problems if left untreated. Small cavities are much easier to fill than large ones, and so on.
Why Every Six Months?
The rule to visit the dentist every six months is surprisingly recent. Sometime in the 20th century, healthcare professionals realized just how bad people were caring for their teeth. They had few guidelines for cleaning and checkups, and they tended to only visit the dentist when they were suffering from a toothache, missing a tooth, or other serious problems. To help people take a more preventative view of dental care, the recommendation to visit the dentist every six months was established. Now, although still a good rule of thumb, we’re becoming aware that this guideline isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to dental care.
Should You Go More Often?
If you’re thinking that the six months guideline is arbitrary and that you may actually need to visit the dentist less than you are now, chances are that’s not the case. While there are a few people who don’t need to get a cleaning and checkup every six months, more people probably need to visit the dentist more often, not less. Many people don’t care for their teeth perfectly, and others are simply at higher risk than others for problems.
It’s best to start off going in every six months, then work with your dentist to see if you need to increase or reduce your visits. People who have periodontal disease often need to have cleanings every three months until the problem is under control. Other high-risk patients may also need more frequent visits. Some examples of high risk include people who are:
- Cancer patients
It’s important to customize your treatment and prevention plan, since everyone is unique.
Prevention is Easier Than Treatment
Prevention is easier than treatment, and you’re less likely to get cavities or gingivitis if you get regular cleanings and checkups.
Choosing the right dentist can help you relax more when you come in for an appointment. If you have special concerns like periodontal issues, then it’s best to choose an expert who has experience in treating and preventing gum disease, like Drs. Gallardo and Lamas in Miami, Florida. Our staff specializes in periodontal disease and dental implants. To schedule your appointment, call 305-447-1447 today!