How often should you visit the dentist? Once a year? Twice? Tricky question, isn’t it? Is there a specific amount of time needed between visits? The answer to this question is a resounding yes, but just like each person’s genetic makeup is unique, so are their dental needs.
Why is it important to periodically see the dentist?
Dentists and dental hygienists have the necessary knowledge to inspect your teeth and gums and spot trouble areas quickly. They use an arsenal of special tools that the average person does not have access to, and even if they did, would not know how to use them. Dental professionals use their experience in the dental field to stop tooth decay and reverse oral health issues like gum disease.
What happens during a routine visit?
The two major reasons for a routine dentist visit are to check the teeth and gums for disease and decay and to professionally clean the teeth. Couldn’t you just use your bathroom mirror to check your teeth for cavities? Why not brush for a little bit longer one day to substitute a professional cleaning? Neither are as effective as they sound.
Armed with an angled mirror and a small, metal probe, your dental hygienist will first search for plaque buildup. These unique set of tools make it easy for him or her to find problematic areas in your mouth. Plaque is a clear layer of bacteria that sticks to teeth. If it’s not removed, plaque will harden, turning into tartar. Tartar is impossible to remove with brushing and flossing, and can lead to oral diseases.
If the dental hygienist spots a cavity, they will set you up for intra-oral x-rays. X-rays are a safe way to spot “dark spots”, otherwise known as tooth decay. They also help
During a cleaning, a dental hygienist will use one of two methods to remove plaque and tartar from your teeth. The first is a scaler, which is a small metal instrument with a sharp, thin point. A scaler is an efficient tool to scrape tartar off the teeth and below the gum line. The second method is an ultrasonic vibrating device which “shakes” the plaque off the teeth. The dental hygienist will then floss your teeth and polish them with a hardened toothpaste.
How often should you really be seeing the dentist?
Our last post covered the effect your genes have in your dental life, specifically why some people can constantly eat sugary foods without ever seeing a cavity. In a way, our genes lay the foundation for how often we might be seeing a dentist. Our genetic makeup determines our enamel thickness, how much saliva we excrete, the size and shape of our jaws and mouth, as well as a number of other characteristics that play a big part in our dental health. So even though dentists typically tell us to come in every six months, it could be more or less depending on our genes. The level of attention we give to our teeth and gums also play a major role.
Ask your dentist how often you should be coming in for a routine checkup. They have all the information they need to give you an answer that fits your dental profile.