Some people only go to the dentist when they have a problem with their teeth or gums. Dentists can certainly remove and fill cavities, treat tooth pain or gum infections, and deal with other oral health issues.
The best way to manage your oral health care, however, is not to wait until you have a problem to visit the dentist. Patients who take a preventative approach can keep their teeth in good condition and avoid major problems.
A preventative approach to oral health care
How can you take a preventative approach to your oral health? You can visit the dentist on a regular basis to get your teeth cleaned and have the dentist look for any signs of issues or illnesses.
This kind of “checkup” is about much more than looking for cavities (although that is certainly one major issue that the dentist will look for). Dentists can also inspect your gums and look for any problems with the bone structure around your mouth and jaw. They can conduct a complete examination visually and with additional tools such as x-rays.
Furthermore, during these regular visits, your dentist can offer advice about things that you can do at home to care for your teeth. Your dentist can run a simple test to see if you are brushing correctly, and they can answer all those oral care questions that everyone wonders about but no one asks: How many times per day should I brush? How many minutes should I brush? How often should I floss? Which kind of toothpaste is best for me?
So how often should you go to the dentist?
It is pretty clear that making a commitment about going to the dentist regularly is a pledge of oral health. But exactly how often should you go?
Unfortunately, there is not a universal answer to this question. People without any ongoing oral health problems should go at least once per year to have their teeth cleaned and to undergo an examination. Some dentists recommend a regular cleaning and checkup every six months. One of the reasons for doing this is to remove any excess plaque on your teeth so that it does not cause any unwanted bacteria to grow in your mouth or on your gums.
Certain “higher risk” groups of people may want to schedule dental visits three times (or even four times) per year. These groups include (but are not limited to) smokers, people who have a history of frequent cavities, people who currently have gum disease, people who struggle with plaque buildup despite twice-a-year cleanings, people with bacterial infections and pregnant women.
Can you go to the dentist too much?
Studies have shown that children who visited the dentist twice per year had a lower number of cavities that their peers who went less than twice per year. There is certainly no harm in going to the dentist twice per year just to make certain that your teeth and gums are in good condition. Children under the age of 18 should go at least once per year to the dentist because of the higher chance of cavities for people in that young age group.
Good oral care practices at home can lessen the need to visit the dentist. However, you should be certain that the things that you are doing at home to care for your teeth and gums are really producing positive results. With a regular examination, a dentist will be able to tell you if you are caring for your teeth and gums in the right manner. Getting this kind of confirmation is another reason to visit the dentist regularly even if you do not have any major oral health problems.