How often do you need to visit a dentist?

blankOral care is perhaps the most overlooked aspect of personal health. It’s rare for people to have a set schedule for visiting their dentists. Oftentimes, people won’t visit the dentist until they have unmanageable tooth pain. By this time, the tooth may no longer be salvageable, and the dentist may need to extract the tooth, require you to undergo a root canal procedure, or have a dental implant, which may make you consider taking dental insurance. With this in mind, it is vital to ensure that you visit your dentist regularly.

Dental visits for children

In the U.S., at least 20% of children have seven cavities. An average child even has at least one decaying tooth, which could have been prevented by regular dental visits. Ideally, a child should have their first visit to the dentist as soon as their first tooth emerges. Some dentists even give fluoride treatments as soon as your child turns one. Ideally, if the child’s first tooth does not come out within the first year, you should immediately schedule an appointment with your pediatric dentist.

Subsequent visits should be done at least twice a year. This visit ensures that your child has aligned teeth while growing up. It also helps the dentist detect and address minor issues that may become serious health problems. Teenagers may also need to see their dentists to determine whether they need to have braces or retainers. If they have braces, they may need to see their dentist at least once a month for adjustments. Regular visits also help the child become familiar and comfortable with their dentists.

Dental visits for adults

The usual dental schedule for adults should also be twice a year. However, this can change depending on oral hygiene, habits, and underlying medical conditions. Prophylaxis or cleaning visits should be done every six months, but dentists may require you to have more frequent visits if you are a smoker or have existing gum disease. People with diabetes and pregnant women are also advised to have more frequent visits.

Besides teeth cleaning, your dentist will also do a thorough oral exam to identify if you have any existing or developing health problems that need attention. Some of the usual oral concerns that can be spotted include gingivitis, cavities, and the presence of cysts and tumors. There may also be some cases when your dentist may require you to undergo an x-ray procedure to detect tooth placement.

Dental visits for seniors

For older adults, the frequency of visits is the same as average adults, about once every six months. The frequency may vary if they have other comorbidities that may affect their oral health, specifically since most of them can also have dental side effects. For example, medications older adults take for their high blood pressure can cause dry mouth, which can cause serious dental health issues when not addressed. This is why it’s  crucial for seniors to divulge their complete medical history so their dentist can be aware of any issues, particularly in adjusting your visits’ frequency to monitor and address potential problems.

Tips for oral care

The best way to ensure that you keep your dental visits to a minimum is by practicing good oral hygiene. Here are some ways on how you can do it.

Regular brushing

Brush your teeth at least twice a day. Use soft bristles and spend a few minutes targeting hard to reach areas to ensure that no food debris remains. Food debris can cause cavities and tartar build-up. Floss often as well to remove food build-up and ensure that your teeth remain cavity-free.

Gum massage

At least once a week, do a gum massage to prevent receding gums. For upper gums, massage downwards and for lower gums, massage upwards. Use a fluoride toothpaste and massage thoroughly. Let the toothpaste sit for about five minutes before gargling it.

Eat healthy food

Part of oral hygiene is eating healthy. Include lots of fruits and vegetables in your diet to ensure that your teeth are getting the right nutrients.

Final thoughts: Take your oral care seriously

If you are unsure of how frequent your dental visits should be, remember to ask your dentist after each visit, as they will be the best to say how often you should receive treatments. Be sure to ask them about what oral care practices you should do at home to make sure that your dental health is in check.