by West Coast Dental
Whether you’re sharing laughs with a dear friend, beaming with pride at your family, or cheerfully greeting a new acquaintance, your smile leads the way and lights up the room. Yet, when you’re not keeping up with regular dental cleaning sessions, you might feel more hesitant to offer up a big, toothy grin.
Maintaining a regular schedule with your dentist will ensure you’re always smiling bright.
So, how often should you go to the dentist to polish your pearly whites? Keep reading for all the ins and outs of dental visit recommendations.
When to Visit the Dentist
You’ve likely heard the tell-tale advice since you were little: brush your teeth two times a day, for two minutes each, and visit the dentist two times a year. Seriously, what’s the deal with dentists and the number two?
By regularly visiting the dentist (yes, twice a year), you can keep plaque buildup at bay and minimize your risk of developing cavities and other oral diseases, especially when paired with a meticulous home dental health routine.
Note: If you’re actively treating other issues—such as tooth pain or gingivitis—additional visits may be required.
Why Regular Dental Appointments are Crucial
Taking time every six months for a cleaning and check-up can do wonders for your oral and overall health. Here are some of the ways keeping up with good oral hygiene and dental care can be beneficial:
- Early detection of tooth decay
- Cavity prevention
- Clean breath
- Healthy smile
- Reduced plaque and tartar
- Thorough examination for prevention of oral diseases
- Prevent other illnesses like heart disease
Keeping a consistent schedule will encourage a good relationship with your dentist and dental hygienist, who will be able to offer you individualized care and keep a close eye on any potential issues or risks, like gum disease, cavities, or oral cancer. Not to mention, they’ll also encourage and support your maintenance of good oral health practices between visits.
Who Should Frequent The Dentist More Regularly?
While everybody can benefit from a dental visit, there are certain risk factors to consider that may have you scheduling an extra dental appointment or two.
Patients who are considered high-risk may need to consider visiting the dentist more often than every six months. Individuals in high-risk categories include:1
- Individuals with diabetes
- Pregnant women
- Immunocompromised individuals
- Those suffering from or at risk for gum disease
Your dentist will help to determine the frequency of your visits and whether you need any additional or more intensive services, like a dental deep clean or sealants.
How Often Should Children Visit The Dentist?
Children should start visiting the dentist earlier than you might think—the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that kids see a dentist starting at age one, or after their first tooth arrives.2
The first visits are more to get them acclimated to the process so they’re comfortable and relaxed and to encourage healthy oral practices. By the time they reach age 4, your child will probably start receiving full exams including x-rays and watching for cavities.
What To Expect During A Routine Check-Up
Routine dental check-ups are just that: regularly scheduled ways to review your overall oral health and assess any risk factors or trouble spots that need to be addressed. While the exact makeup of a dental exam and teeth cleaning may vary from dentist to dentist, there are a few main components that are typically involved:3
What is dental deep cleaning and how long does deep dental cleaning take? The dental hygienist will take you back to the exam room for a thorough cleaning, having you lay on a comfortable reclined chair. Either the hygienist or dentist will perform the dental cleaning, which includes scraping away plaque and tartar buildup with small metal tools, flossing, brushing, and rinsing. A fluoride treatment may also be included to help prevent tooth decay.
However, deep cleaning is an intensive treatment that removes plaque and buildup as well as smoothing out the roots. Since this may cause stress to your gums and teeth, it might take two sessions to finish the cleaning. This will allow your gums to heal. Wondering what to expect after deep cleaning your teeth? You’ll most likely feel temporary discomfort, sensitivity, or swollen gums.
Along with a gentle reminder on proper techniques for cleaning your teeth at home, the consultation is a good time to bring up any issues with your oral health that you’re concerned with or think should be addressed by the dentist, such as pains or sensitivity.
Although it might sound ominous, dental x-rays are quick and painless, requiring only a lead covering and biting down for the duration of the photography. Depending on what the dentist orders, you will typically receive either full mouth x-rays or bitewing x-rays. X-rays are an important way for your dentist to identify and monitor any oral health problems and to have a record of progression to prepare for issues that might develop.
Once your teeth are sparkling, the dentist will give your mouth a thorough exam to determine your overall oral health, looking for signs of cavities, gum disease, oral cancer, and your bite, to name a few. They’ll also look at your x-rays to determine if any next steps, such as cavity fillings or referrals to a specialist, are needed.
Reasons To Visit The Dentist
There are a number of reasons to visit the dentist beyond just your bi-annual routine check-ups. Dentists are available for consultation and treatment for a variety of issues and conditions. Some of the most common reasons to seek dental care include maintenance, prevention, emergency care, tooth extraction, and cosmetic work.
Keeping up with your twice-yearly dentist visits is a key step in promoting and maintaining your oral health. Dental offices have the tools and skills to give your teeth a more thorough clean than you can get at home, so routine cleanings and exams give you a fresh, clean slate for your daily brushing and flossing.
The easiest way to take care of any dental issues that come up is to detect them early. During your twice-yearly dental exam, your dentist will take a close look for any early signs of decay or other potential oral health problems. If you’re at high risk for certain conditions like periodontitis, keeping up with preventative care is crucial in keeping diseases at bay. Some preventative services include cleanings, sealants, and fluoride treatments aimed at combating tooth decay and gum diseases.
When tooth irritation hits you out of the blue, and you need a root canal, or you accidentally cracked a tooth during an intense game of basketball, you’ll probably need to seek out emergency dental care. Emergency dental care is often available with same-day appointments or after-hours and on weekends, depending on the severity of your tooth problem.
While some procedures might be referred to an oral surgeon or endodontist, the very common wisdom tooth extraction is often done by your regular dentist either as preventative care or emergency removal if they become severely impacted. Severe tooth decay may also require extraction if the tooth can’t be saved in order to protect the health of the rest of your mouth.
Whether you want to amp up your pearly whites to eleven or correct a crooked smile that’s been bothering you, a cosmetic dentist can help you achieve the perfect smile you seek. Implants, veneers, whitening, and bridges are all ways to restore and improve the confidence of your smile.
While smaller dental practices may need to refer you out to others for certain services, at West Coast Dental, our practice includes specialists that cover everything from general dentistry and cosmetic dentistry to children’s and orthodontic dentistry, meeting the dental needs of everyone in your family.
What Happens If You Don’t Keep Up With Routine Dental Care?
When you skip a dental appointment (or appointments) you run the risk of developing serious oral health issues that can go unchecked the longer you stay away from routine dental care. Increasing amounts of bacteria and build-up can eventually lead to gum disease, periodontitis, and other health concerns.
Your oral health is also connected to maintaining your overall wellness. Bacteria lingering in your mouth can enter your bloodstream, and cause or be a symptom of a whole host of other health issues.
Maintaining Oral Health Between Visits
Once your teeth are polished and tartar-free after your dental visit, it’s important to continue the good cleaning habits when you get back home. Here’s what the American Dental Association recommends for keeping up with your oral health at home:4
- Brush twice daily with fluoride toothpaste
- Daily flossing
- Eat healthy meals
- Limit sugars and sweets
- Avoid tobacco products
In consultation with your dentist, you can determine the necessity for any personalized home dental care needs, such as electric toothbrushes and antimicrobial mouth rinses. With regular dental care, you’ll keep your teeth looking and feeling fantastic.
West Coast Dental: Supporting Your Smile One Visit At A Time
Regular dental visits are essential for maintaining and improving the health of your teeth and gums, as well as providing important preventative care to stop or catch any oral health issues early. When your mouth is healthy, you can smile wide knowing you’re taking the right steps toward good oral and overall wellness.
At West Coast Dental, we’re committed to providing the highest quality full-service dental care all over Southern California. Whether you need a routine exam, emergency dental care, or anything in between, our team of friendly staff and specialists can help. Find the location closest to you and schedule your next routine dental exam with us today and keep your gorgeous smile healthy and bright.
- Colgate. How Often Should You Go To The Dentist? https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/dental-visits/how-often-should-you-go-to-the-dentist
- WebMD. When Should I Take My Child to the Dentist? https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/features/when-should-i-take-my-child-to-the-dentist
- Medline Plus. Dental Exam. https://medlineplus.gov/lab-tests/dental-exam/
- American Dental Association. Home Oral Care. https://www.ada.org/resources/research/science-and-research-institute/oral-health-topics/home-care
- ADA Mouth Healthy. 12 Signs You Need to See a Dentist. https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/top-reasons-to-visit-dentist
- Cleveland Clinic. Dental Check-Up. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/11187-dental-check-up
- Cleveland Clinic. Oral Hygiene. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/16914-oral-hygiene
- The BMJ. How often should we go to the dentist? https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1116309/
- WebMD. Do You Really Need a Dental Checkup Every 6 Months? https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/features/dental-checkup-every-6-months