The answer is yes — if you want to have a healthy, beautiful smile! That being said, everyone is different. Some people can get away with pushing it out to every nine months, while others really should stick to the twice yearly recommendation. This goes for adults. Children should definitely see the dentist every six months because their teeth and jaws are still developing — not to mention their penchant for getting cavities for eating lots of sweets!
Here’s why you need to see the dentist twice a year:
Tartar and Plaque Buildup
Even the most diligent of brushers and flossers need a checkup to remove the buildup of tartar and plaque that accumulates. Tartar is basically a sticky bacteria that forms on your teeth between brushings. It’s hard to get off, it looks unsightly and it can lead to gum disease. Also known as calculus, tartar accumulates when bacterial plaques in the mouth blend with calcium deposits from your saliva, which will have to be scrapped off by your dentist because a toothbrush just won’t cut it. If you go a couple of months with tartar buildup, it will eat away at your gums and eventually get to the root of your tooth as it descends below the gum line. Do you want to face having a tooth or two pulled for no good reason? We didn’t think so. Bacteria that is allowed to get into the gums and at the root can get into your blood stream and cause an infection at best and cardiovascular disease at worst.
Fewer Procedures and Dental Bills
When you put off going to the dentist for months and years, your teeth become susceptible to anything from tartar buildup to gum disease to cavities. Those procedures aren’t cheap. According to Cost Helper Health, the average dental cleaning ranges between $80 and $175. In many cases, your insurance plan will pay for most or all of that cost. Compare that to the cost of cavity drillings, root canals, tooth pullings, bridges and dentures, which can all result from poor oral hygiene, running you into the hundreds and thousands of dollars. This is why it’s in your best interest to see your dentist every six months. In addition to that, the American Dental Association recommends twice yearly visits to maintain optimum oral health.
Beyond Teeth Cleaning
At these six-month visits, your dentist is doing much more than just cleaning your teeth. He or she will evaluate your mouth, gums and jaw as a whole, checking for:
- Signs of gum disease
- Loose teeth
- Inflamed tissues
- Evidence of tooth decay
- Broken teeth
- Healthy tongue and bite
- Damaged fillings
- Changes in gums
- Secure fit on dental appliances
- Contact between individual teeth
You will also likely get an x-ray every so often to make sure the roots of your teeth are looking good. Then, when it’s time for the cleaning, your hygienist will polish your teeth, scrape off any plaque, floss and go over proper oral care routines with you.
There are good reasons why your dentist wants to see you every six months. It’s a good idea to schedule your next visit every time you leave an appointment so you don’t forget.