Have you ever wondered if you REALLY need to see a dentist every six months? Today we hope we can shed some light on that question for you!
The truth is that no, not every patient needs to come in every six months, but we will take a look at that in a few moments. Let’s first discuss the expectations and why they are in place.
We’ll talk about what you get out of your exams and cleanings and how it is a benefit to you to keep those appointments! Let’s get started!
At Home Care Isn’t Enough
Even the most thorough and vigilant patients are unable to keep their teeth in good shape for very long. Bacteria is all over your mouth, and it can go places that your brush and floss can’t even imagine!
You can add an antibacterial rinse, which will help, but you’ll still be at risk for decay and infection. It’s just a fact. Patients with exceptional genetics will be able to stay healthy longer, but eventually, every smile will need help.
Why Every Six Months?
Six isn’t the magic number for everyone, but we’ll get into that in just a moment. We do recommend regular visits because that’s about how long it takes for bacteria to build plaque under the gumline.
When you brush and floss, you are removing plaque from the surfaces of your teeth, but bacteria can still go beneath the gumline and build. Over time, that bacteria causes an infection called gingivitis.
We recommend six month cleanings because it is an average for how often the general public needs to have that plaque removed. As we’ve mentioned, that number isn’t right for everyone.
Six Months Isn’t Right for Everyone
Six months is the average (and a great number for most patients to stick with) time it will take for plaque to build up under the gum line and begin problems. You can come in, have your cleaning, and be on your way for the next six months without much trouble.
However, some people need to come in more often than that. These are people who struggle with decay and infection control in their mouth. It’s not necessarily due to poor hygiene habits, though. Often, the downfall is genetic or medical in nature.
A patient with weakened tooth enamel might need to come in every 3-4 months. The same goes for a patient who is living with diabetes or a problem with their immune system. These patients are not able to fight the infection with their bodies, and they need those extra cleanings to maintain a healthy mouth.
On the other end of the spectrum is the patient who could come in every 12 months and be fine. Patients like this have high-functioning immune systems, extra strong teeth, and are very fortunate to not have to worry about their oral health too much. We are still hesitant to tell these patients to only come in once a year because we use those six month exams for things besides cleanings!
What Happens at the Appointment?
The Cleaning: The first priority is the cleaning. We want to remove that harmful plaque from your teeth and gums so that your mouth feels better, and you are able to enjoy another six months of oral health, but that’s not all that we do!
Gum Disease Check: We are also looking for signs of gum disease. If it’s the beginnings of an infection, we can remove it during your cleaning, but we will also want to talk with you about how to prevent problems in the future.
Decay Check: Even the healthiest teeth develop cavities from time to time. It is better to catch those cavities while they are still small so that filling the cavity is as easy as possible.
Other Important Checks: Aside from cleaning and checking for obvious problems, we are doing some other checks as well. We use X-rays to keep an eye on the growth of your teeth and signs of problems below the gumline. We are also looking for signs of oral cancer and other detrimental problems.
Skipping a six month cleaning or pushing it back simply because you don’t want to go are not good for your overall oral health. There are a lot of things to consider, and we want you to really think about the implications before you start skipping care.
Contact us today with your questions. We would love to discuss things with you and help you come to the best decision for your smile. You can also bring up your concerns at your next appointment! We hope to see you soon!