How often should we go to the dentist for a “check up and clean”?
The most common recommendation for dental check ups is every 6 months. It is important to realise though, this number was not devised by a dentist ….. it was by a dental health insurance company!
But yes, for a lot of people 6 months works.
However, there are many people who require more frequent visits and even a few who could attend less.
Children absolutely need at least every 6 months. Things can change so quickly in a child mouth that sometimes more regularly is beneficial. A teenager with braces on, often needs to see us every 3 months for cleaning and a checks. A child with poorly formed teeth is more at risk of decay and may need to be seen more regularly. Personally, my 3 children who all have great teeth are seen at least every 3 months as well as mum checks at home.
Adults who are susceptible to gum issues either by genetics or health status, need to be seen usually 3 monthly. The bacteria that cause gum disease live in the mouth and their environment needs to be disturbed every 10-12 weeks to prevent further damage.
People who cannot clean their teeth themselves are at a huge risk of gum problems and tooth decay. Special needs groups and the elderly often need more regular dental check ups and cleaning. The advent of electric toothbrushes and flossing devices has improved this but it needs to be monitored.
Then every now and then, we meet a patient who hasn’t been to the dentist for a number of years, x-rays reveal no decay, they have no fillings, gums are perfectly healthy and there is build up on the teeth. This is very rare.
Everyone else, 6 months usually suffices.
So with health funds now starting to recommend once a year dental check ups to save their revenue……we have a problem!