A question asked time and again is how often should I see my dentist? It is recommended by oral professionals to you see your dentist at least every 6 months, but is it necessary?
According to the Australia’s Oral Health Tracker study, published in 2018 and conducted by Australian Dental Association, over 90% of Australian adults have experienced dental caries (tooth decay or cavities) at some point in their lives and over one-quarter of Australian children and adults live with untreated tooth decay in their primary teeth.
Now while there is no evidence or research concerning the frequency at which you see your dentist, it is quite evident that the majority of the population is suffering.
To paint a picture, you supposedly service your vehicle every 6-12 months or every 5,000kms – 10,000kms, but why? To prevent mechanical fault, increase longevity, and to ensure your vehicle is safe to drive.
What about your health?
Why are regular dental checkups important?
Many oral professionals find the 6-month recall to be the safest amount of time to allow for detection of any possible oral health issues such as tooth decay, gum disease or oral cancer.
This gives you the best chances of treating any issues in the earliest of stages, discuss treatment options available with your dentist, and how much it’s going to cost.
Regular visits are also usually followed with a routine cleaning and scaling, where hardened plaque is removed from your teeth.
This also allows the dentist to provide advice on how to improve your oral care and hygiene to effectively reduce the risk of developing gum disease or any other severe oral health issues that can be quite costly.
How often should you visit your dentist?
Everyone is different. There are a number of factors that can determine how often you should be visiting your dentist and the only person who can provide this information to you is your dentist.
What factors determine how often you visit your dentist?
The factors that determine how frequently you need to visit the dentist can be split into 2 categories.
Those who fall under high risk tend to have more frequent checkups of 3-6 months as they are prone to dental decay, whereas those who fall under low risk may only need a checkup every 6-12 months.
Circumstances can also change which can cause your frequency to either increase or decrease but you wouldn’t without going to see your dentist.
- Frequent or prolonged consumption of sugary foods and drinks
- Recent tooth decay
- Missing teeth due to recent decay
- Severe dry mouth
- Pregnant women
- People with current gum disease
- People with weak immune response to bacterial infection
- People who tend to get cavities or build up plaque
- No recent tooth decay
- Regular dental care including brushing and flossing
- Fluoride exposure (through drinking water, professional application, or toothpaste)
- Healthy diet and lifestyle
Factors that increase the risk of dental decay
- Eating disorders
- Medications that reduce saliva flow
- Drug and alcohol abuse
- Visible plaque
- Crooked or crowded teeth
- Previous fillings (especially between teeth)
- Exposed root surfaces
- Dentures or dental implants
- Over the age of 65*
*The chances of getting gum disease increases as you get older. Of the people surveyed in a study, 53.4% of people aged 65 and over had gum disease and that only 2.7% of people aged 15-24 were affected by gum disease.
Be preventative, not reactive
Just like servicing your car, if you prolong your visit to the dentist, you increase the risk of tooth decay and gum disease, which can result in a more expensive fix.
You may not feel any pain or see any issues, but by the time you feel any sort of pain, it’s usually too late.
Pain and toothaches only occur in the later stages of gum disease or tooth decay, and by the time the pain sets in, it becomes too late to be treated easily. This can lead to an unnerving conversation with your dentist about extractions, implant replacements, root canals, or any other complex and costly treatments.
Prevention is key.
By going to your dentist regularly, you have the best possible chance of maintaining good oral care and hygiene and to effectively reduce your chances of dental caries.
It all comes down to what your dentist determines is the most suitable time between check ups based on your individual needs and requirements.
When was the last time you went to the dentist?
Book an appointment with one of our dentists today.