You should be visiting your dentist every six months, according to the American Dental Association. But why is this a good rule of thumb? After all, it is generally recommended that you undergo a regular physical exam about every two years; so what is it about oral care that requires more attention?
People most often lose their first tooth at about the age of six, while 78 years is the average lifespan. The strong tooth enamel protecting the softer dentin and dental pulp within each tooth is not capable of rapidly repairing itself like other parts of your body. What you are given must last for over seven decades of repetitive chewing, biting, and exposure to all types of foods and acidic beverages. Keep reading to discover why seeing your dentist is so vital to your oral health.
Preventative dental care starts with your oral hygiene routine at home. By forming healthy habits, you can help reduce the occurrence of common problems like gum disease and cavities. The basics of proper oral health include the following:
- You need to be brushing your teeth at least twice daily with a good fluoride toothpaste. We would be happy to offer recommendations to you. (See our blog for a few good ones).
- Brushing is essential, but don’t forget flossing. Floss each day to remove food debris that can become stuck between your teeth.
- Avoid foods and beverages with strong acids that can damage your tooth enamel.
- Don’t smoke or use tobacco products, as these activities can cause dental problems or oral cancer.
It’s often the most mundane types of dental appointments that get overlooked. Unfortunately, some patients are of the mistaken belief that their at-home oral hygiene routine is always enough to prevent the development of plaque, gum disease and cavities. Although that may be the case for some, it is a dangerous game to play, as most people have nooks and crannies that are hard to reach and clean.
Once plaque has formed, gum disease is not far behind. And plaque that hardens develops into tartar that you cannot remove on your own. By undergoing regular dental cleanings, you are helping to prevent the accumulation of plaque that would otherwise lead to gum disease. Think of these types of appointments as preventative maintenance that help avoid unnecessary, costly, and uncomfortable dental procedures down the road.
Preventive dental care begins just as soon as your child gets their first tooth. It helps to prevent problems before they get out of control and become more costly. Available services include:
- Promotion of proper dental habits, including daily brushing and flossing, as well as nutritional guidance on foods and beverages that enhance dental health.
- Fluoride treatments.
- Pediatric dental sealants.
- Athletic mouth guards.
- Regular dental exams and cleanings, normally every six months.
So visiting your dentist every six months is the minimum for most patients. Of course, if you have an ongoing issue, you may need more frequent visits, such as if you have periodontal disease and require more frequent cleanings.
Failure to keep up with your regular checkups and cleanings means that any problems with your teeth, mouth, and gums can rapidly spiral out of control. Small cavities turn into large ones that are painful, and eventually you need a root canal procedure. Gingivitis can become aggressive gum disease, potentially causing bone loss and missing teeth.
All of these problems can be prevented by maintaining your healthy dental habits at home, combined with keeping up with your regular dental exams and cleanings at least every six months.
Thanks for your support!
– Dr. Houlik