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Most of us know that visiting a dentist regularly is essential to having a healthy mouth, but how many of us actually go? 42% of American adults admit that they don’t go to the dentist as often as they would like, and 15% said they made their last appointment because they were experiencing pain.

How often should you go to the dentist, and why is it so important? Read on to learn how often you should receive a dental check-up and cleaning, and how it benefits your overall health.

How Often Should You Go to The Dentist?

It’s a standard recommendation throughout the U.S. dental profession that both children and adults should visit a dentist every six months for a cleaning and oral exam. Many dental insurance companies cover two check-ups per year, and this frequency allows dental professionals to catch any problems while they’re still small and affordable to treat.

Your dentist will generally recommend how often you should come in for a check-up and cleaning. Most people who practice good oral care only need to see the dentist every six months, but there are some exceptions. Your dentist may want you to come in more frequently for a cleaning and exam if you fall under the following categories:

You’re Pregnant

Pregnancy’s fluctuating hormones can put expecting moms at greater risk for developing gum disease and cavities.

You’re a Cancer Patient

Some cancer medications can dry out the mouth and put patients at greater risk for oral health conditions.

You’re Diabetic

Diabetes can contribute to gum and other oral health problems.

You’re a Smoker

Using tobacco can cause gum disease and also make it harder for your body to heal following dental procedures and oral surgery.

You’re a Heart Patient

Oral health matters when it comes to preventing heart disease, as bacteria in the mouth can make its way into the heart. People with poor oral health have higher rates of cardiovascular problems compared to people with healthy mouths. Regular dental cleanings and check-ups may decrease your risk of developing heart disease.

If you meet any of the above criteria, you should let your dentist know.

What to Expect At Your Dental Checkup

A dental checkup usually takes an hour or less to complete. This appointment gives your dentist and dental hygienist a chance to access your oral health and make recommendations for any needed treatment and at-home hygiene. Although every dental practice sets its own procedures to follow during a check-up, you can generally expect the following at your six month appointment:

X-Rays

If you’re due for x-rays, the dental hygienist will take these at the start of the appointment to give the dentist a chance to review them before examining your mouth.

Cleaning and Polishing

There are lots of benefits of a dental cleaning. The hygienist will clean your teeth using scalers and other dental tools that gently remove plaque and tartar from tooth surfaces and just below the gum line. They will then polish your teeth using a paste and floss in between your teeth.

Your hygienist may alert you to areas that need a little more attention when cleaning your teeth. They can also instruct you on the proper way to brush and floss your teeth.

Oral Cancer Screening

Before examining your teeth and gums, your dentist may perform an oral cancer screening first. This consists of examining your palate, tongue, throat, inside of your cheeks, and other parts of your oral cavity for any signs of cancer. They will also feel the outside of your jaw and throat for any abnormalities.

Your dentist is usually the first line of defense when treating oral cancer, as they’re likely to spot it before another doctor. This is one reason why having regular dental check-ups is so important. Oral cancer can spread quickly, and early detection is vital in treating it.

Cavity Detection

Your dentist will then examine your teeth for any decay, cracks, chips, and other damage that may require repair. The dental hygienist assists them by charting any tooth that requires treatment.

Condition of Existing Dental Work

Fillings and other dental work doesn’t last forever, which is why a dentist checks the condition of them during an exam. They will make recommendations for a new filling, crown, or bridge if the current one is no longer keeping a tooth strong and healthy.

Assessment of Gum Health

Your dentist will also check the condition of your gums for any signs of gingivitis (the early stage of gum disease) or periodontitis (the later stages.) They will check for pockets around each tooth where the gums have pulled away due to bacteria and plaque build-up underneath the gum line.

Gingivitis can be stopped and reversed with proper at-home oral care and regular dental cleanings, but periodontitis requires specialized treatment from a periodontist.

Why Your Dental Check-Up is Important

Sticking to your regular dental check-ups and cleanings is all about preventative care. Treating oral problems during their early stages is less costly and requires less time in the dentist’s chair compared to only seeing a dentist when you’re in pain.

Your dental team can also determine if you’re doing a good job with your at-home oral care hygiene or if you need to step it up. Your oral health can affect your overall health, so seeing your dentist regularly should be as natural as seeing your primary care doctor for check-ups.

Now You Know How Often You Should Visit the Dentist

Now that you know how often you should visit the dentist, are you overdue for a check-up?

Our friendly, caring staff at Fermelia Dental will make your feel comfortable during your appointment. Contact us to schedule your cleaning and oral exam.