How Often Should You Go to The Dentist
The rule of thumb on the frequency of dental visits is that you should go for a check-up every six months. However, to be fair, it’s just a rule of thumb. Some say once a year is good enough, and some experts even say once every two years is OK as long as you don’t have any existing problems. So, who is right?
Researchers Fail to Reach Consensus
The six-month rule isn’t exactly a rule, and it isn’t backed by any serious research. At the same time, it hasn’t exactly been debunked either. Most scientists agree that kids should go for check-ups as often as every six months because their teeth are more susceptible to decay.
A study found that kids who went to the family dentist often had fewer fillings than those who didn’t. However, some have criticised the study for not taking other factors into consideration. For example, kids from better-off families probably go to the dentist more often, but they are also likely to eat a healthier diet.
Another study looked at the oral health of adults who went to the dentist every year compared to those who only went every two years. The study concluded that people who saw their dentists every year had better oral health than those who only went every two years. But again, the study came under fire. This time, it was criticised for the lack of “blinding” that could eliminate researchers’ bias.
Rules of Thumb Only Apply to Thumbs
The whole debate on how often you should see your dentist is more complicated than it may seem on the surface. For example, if you have weakened teeth and a high incidence of oral health issues, you should see your dentist more often than someone who enjoys consistently good oral health.
Throughout the debate, researchers highlight the fact that individual needs dictate how often any person should see their dentist.
Even supposing that studies could come up with conclusive evidence that either confirms or refutes the six-month rule, that rule might not apply to you. This leads us to wonder why there is a debate to begin with!
So, How Do You Know When its Time for a Check-Up?
If you have oral health issues, your dentist will recommend how frequently your mouth and teeth need attention. If you don’t, you’ll find that dentists differ on the recommended frequency of check-ups. That’s not surprising. All we have to go on is personal experience and inconclusive medical research.
However, most dentists prefer to see their patients every six months. They say it helps them to pick up problems early enough to do something about them before they become serious issues that require invasive treatments. They’re basing that conclusion on what they’ve seen in their own practices. After all, it’s better for our patients to get a minor filling than to need a root treatment or extraction.
One thing, however, has been proven conclusively. If you never see the dentist unless you’re experiencing a problem that you noticed, you will lose more teeth than those who go for check-ups when their teeth feel fine.
Ask your dentist how often he or she thinks you should go for a check-up. And if the answer is “Every six months,” well, that’s as good an answer as any, and possibly better. With people living longer than ever, and needing their teeth to last longer, keeping mouth and teeth healthy is a investment in your future.