Whether you’re five-years-old or 50, the recommendation is the same—you should go to the dentist every six months. Even toddlers who only have a few teeth in their mouths need to see the dentist because dental visits are about so much more than just healthy teeth. Your oral health is closely linked to your overall health, so taking care of your smile should be part of your regular wellness routine. Here’s why.
Even the best brushers leave plaque and food debris behind, and if this plaque accumulates, it can harden into a substance called tartar. Tartar is bad news because it can cause tooth decay and gum disease—and it can’t be removed by brushing alone. The only way to get rid of tartar is with a professional teeth cleaning. When you get your teeth cleaned every six months at the dentist, you can stop potential dental issues before they start.
Dental cleaning begins with scaling, which involves an ultrasonic tool that uses water to blast tartar from your tooth surfaces. Any tartar that remains will be cleaned with a handheld tool called a scaler. A high-powered electric toothbrush will then polish your teeth to remove enamel stains and create a smooth surface that makes it harder for new plaque deposits to collect.
Comprehensive Oral Evaluations
Along with your dental cleaning, you’ll have a comprehensive oral evaluation. This is just as important as having your teeth cleaned. While teeth cleaning gives us the chance to prevent tooth decay and gum disease from occurring, evaluations every six months allow us to catch the earliest signs of disease so we can treat any dental and periodontal issues before they become more serious.
Each of your teeth will be examined for decay; if you have dental restorations, they’ll be checked too to ensure that they’re not compromised in any way. A tool is used to measure the depth of your periodontal pockets, which is one of the ways we check for gum disease. If needed, we will take digital x-rays to give us a better look at your teeth and jaw structure.
Another part of your biannual dental exam is your oral cancer screening. Dentists play an important role in the diagnosis of mouth, tongue, and throat cancers, which are often mistaken for canker sores or other lesions to the untrained eye.
When You Might Need to See the Dentist More Often
For almost all patients, it’s enough to see the dentist every six months to monitor your oral health and keep your teeth clean. There are, however, some circumstances in which more frequent check-ins may be necessary.
One of the most common reasons for more frequent visits is gum disease. Because plaque and tartar can cause gum disease, it’s critical that build-up is removed regularly. After gum disease treatment, your dentist may put together a periodontal maintenance program that has you coming in for dental cleanings every three months. Patients undergoing Invisalign treatment will also need to come to the dentist more often—usually every four to six weeks for the duration of their treatment.