The American Dental Association says that a little more than half of Americans go to their dentist twice a year, which is how often checkups should be done. This means that more than 40% of people only make an appointment when something is wrong. People in the second group may end up spending more money on dental care than they would if they kept their appointments every six months. Also, not going to a dentist regularly can cause major dental problems and, in the end, tooth loss.
How Important is Seeing Your Dentist Regularly?
The American Dental Association (ADA) says that everyone should see a dentist at least once or twice a year. However, the number of times a person should see a dentist will depend on the person. A good rule of thumb, though, is to schedule a cleaning every six months.
People often wonder why they need to go to the dentist twice a year, or even at all if their teeth are in good shape. There are two parts to this answer.
For one thing, going to the dentist regularly lets people get much more thorough cleanings than they can do at home. Even though brushing, flossing, and rinsing twice a day can help keep bacteria from building up on the teeth and gums, they can’t clean between the teeth or under the gumline very well. With professional tools, however, a dental hygienist or dentist can remove plaque or tartar buildup in hard-to-reach places. This lowers the risk of cavities, gum disease, bad breath, or other dental problems in a patient.
Two, a complete dental exam can find small problems before they get worse and cost more to fix. Minor problems, like dental caries, can be fixed or stopped before they get worse if they are caught early.
Other Times to Visit Your Dentist
Some people may need to go to the dentist more often than others, or they may need to make an appointment outside of the typical six-month time frame. Some situations that might call for a visit sooner rather than later are:
- When someone has severe, long-lasting tooth or gum pain.
- When a patient’s teeth or gums become sensitive suddenly and/or in a big way.
- When a patient’s mouth is hurt, like after a sports injury or car accident, he or she needs to see a dentist.
- When a tooth breaks, cracks, chips, or comes loose.
- When someone gets a cavity.
- When a restoration or prosthetic that is already in place becomes loose or falls out.
- When a person has white spots in the mouth or dark spots on their teeth, these are signs of decay or damage.
In these situations, it is always best to see a dentist right away, even if the problem turns out to be minor.
A dentist’s job is to keep their patients’ teeth in good shape and stop as many dental problems as they can. The best way for these professionals to do their jobs is to see each patient every year or every other year.
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