Despite many recommendations from professionals in the field to get a dental check up every six month, many Americans are still neglecting to go in even once a year. The latest statistics from the CDC are from 2014 and show the percentage of people who have visited the dentist in the last year:
- 83% of children aged 2-17
- 62% of adults aged 18-64
- 4% of adults aged 65 and over
We hope that by better informing our patients about the need to come in every six months, they will make it a priority.
One of the biggest reasons you should come in to get a professional cleaning is for prevention. What exactly are we preventing with these visits? Any serious problems with your teeth. Small cavities left unchecked can turn into big cavities. When a cavity gets too big, it may require a root canal. Sometimes the tooth becomes too weak to support a large filling too and a crown is necessary. There are other problems though too.
Jaw and deep bone problems. Unchecked cavities can reach deeper into the surrounding areas when left unchecked. The jaw bone and sinuses are affected in some cases from irreversible bone loss. Treating any of these more serious problems is not only more painful, but it costs a lot more money too.
Gum health. The health of your gums is heavily related to tooth health. The most common form of gum disease is Gingivitis, which is marked by red, swollen tissue that bleeds easily. While this disease can reverse with brushing and flossing every day, left untreated it can cause more severe periodontal disease. During dental cleanings, the hygienist will scrape away the plaque to prevent too much build up, which contributes to gingivitis. Tartar is plaque that hardens when left for too long. It cannot be treated with brushing and flossing and requires professional help to remove.
Other diseases. As we age, health problems start becoming more frequent. Many medications have a common side effect called dry mouth. This is when the mouth doesn’t make as much saliva, which leads to an ideal growing spot for bacteria. When the mouth has more bacteria, acid, or just uneven pH balance, the risk of dental problems increases.
The six month recommendation was given over 50 years ago, but it was meant for the general population. While daily brushing and flossing is enough for some people to prevent cavities, it isn’t the case for everyone. There are some factors that change the six month recommendation like
- Current gum disease
- Weak immune systems
- Past problems with plaque
These can be causes for concern, so we recommend coming in every three to four months. This is all done on a case by case basis and something we would talk to you personally about.
Here at Dental Horizons, we want all our patients to have great teeth. This starts with regular brushing and flossing, along with visits into our office for professional cleanings every six months. Treat your mouth well and it will return the favor.