Your dentist says your pearly whites should be inspected twice a year; your colleague in the next cubicle goes three times annually; and your best friend sees the dentist just once a year. So what gives? How often do you really need to get a dental checkup?
Have you ever wondered why the American Dental Association and your dentist recommend you come back every six months? It’s because regular dental visits are essential for the maintenance of healthy teeth and gums. And in between those examinations, it’s important that you work to keep your teeth and gums clean and healthy. If you need additional help, your dentist may even suggest more frequent visits.
These more frequent cleanings remove built-up plaque, the daily debris that we keep under control with proper brushing. Plaque can encourage the growth of harmful bacteria that cause periodontal or gum disease, an infection of the tissue that holds your teeth in place. With time, teeth may loosen and be in danger of falling out.
Smoking, systemic diseases including diabetes, pregnancy, and the use of oral contraceptives can all increase the risk of gum disease. If your gums bleed when you clean your teeth, or are tender, swollen or red, see a dentist immediately.
With growing evidence linking oral health with general health, only you and your dentist can determine how many visits are best. As a general rule, go a minimum of once per year, but more frequently if you have specific problems.