You brush and floss daily, steer clear of sugary drinks, and even wear a night guard to keep from grinding – do you really need to see your dentist twice a year?
Are you high risk for cavities, gum disease, or oral cancer? While it might be tempting to believe there’s nothing wrong with taking your oral care into your own hands, only your dentist will know for sure, and they can determine how often they need to see you in their chair.
It’s true that there are a handful of folks with low risk of cavities or gum disease who will be able to get away with fewer visits, but they are the exception to the rule. In general, you should aim for at least two visits a year, unless your dentist recommends otherwise. People at high risk for dental disease may need to see their oral care team every three to four months, or more.
A good cleaning helps remove the build up of plaque or other material between teeth and below the gum line that your regular brushing and flossing may have missed. Plus, who doesn’t love that “fresh from the dentist” feeling? Plaque and tartar build up is relatively easy to remove after six months, but going longer between cleanings requires a more thorough job, and longer time in the chair.
Outside of ensuring your teeth are clean and tartar free, the idea behind regular visits is twofold: prevention and monitoring. The goal is to catch small problems early and keep track of them before they can develop into something more serious.
Children should see the dentist as early as one year, or at least six months from the eruption of their first tooth, although some dentists prefer to wait until the child has all of their primary teeth (typically, by age three). Even children as young as six months are susceptible to tooth decay. Contact your dentists office to find out their policy.
What’s the state of your dental health? Talk to your dentist about how often you should be seen for cleanings and checkups, but (at least) two visits a year is a small price to pay to prevent avoidable complications from poor dental hygiene.