No matter what age you are, maintaining your oral health is vital, and regularly visiting your dentist is one of the best ways to ensure your teeth and gums are healthy. Yet, according to the American Dental Association (ADA), about 100 million Americans fail to see a dentist yearly, which is nearly one-third of the country’s population.
If you’re a person who rarely sees a dentist, it might be time to consider scheduling regular visits. These routine dental checkups are important because your dentist can help detect oral health problems early on when treatment is usually simpler and more affordable. Without regular visits, untreated dental conditions can worsen, making treatment potentially more difficult and expensive down the road.
Even if you properly care for your teeth and gums at home, a dental professional can use X-rays and other special dental instruments to check for problems you may not see or feel yourself. Many dental problems and conditions — e.g., cavities, periodontal disease, and oral cancer — typically don’t become visible or cause pain until they’re in a more advanced stage, so visiting a dentist regularly can help prevent these issues from developing in the first place.
How Often Should I Visit My Dentist?
Currently, there’s no official one-size-fits-all recommendation for how often you should go to the dentist. The ADA reports, “A systematic review of the literature failed to arrive at a consensus regarding optimal recall frequency to minimize either caries or periodontal disease risk in part due to limited availability of studies addressing this topic. Nonetheless, in terms of the balance between resource allocation and risk reduction, it can be concluded that there is merit in tailoring a patient’s recall interval to individual need based on assessed risk of disease.”
Everyone has their own smile and unique dental needs. Some people may need to schedule a checkup only once or twice a year, while others might have to visit the dentist more often. When you visit a dental professional, they’ll recommend a checkup routine tailored to your oral health.
Factors That Could Impact Your Dentist Visit Routine
Several factors can determine the frequency of your dental visits. The following are some reasons why you may need to schedule dental checkups more frequently:
It’s common for pregnant women to develop gingivitis because the hormonal changes during pregnancy can inflame the gums. Additionally, pregnant women have a higher risk for cavities because of overeating caused by cravings and increased oral acidity due to vomiting.
Smoking and Tobacco
Smoking cigarettes or using smokeless tobacco can cause various oral health issues, including gingival recession, oral cancer, and periodontal disease.
Cancer and its treatments — e.g., chemotherapy — can weaken the immune system, making your mouth more susceptible to oral health problems such as infection, dry mouth, mouth sores, sensitive gums, and jaw pain.
If you have diabetes, you have an increased risk of developing periodontal disease and other oral health problems.
Cavities and Plaque Buildup
If you’re prone to getting cavities and plaque buildup, your dentist will likely recommend more frequent visits.
Maintaining Your Dental Health One Visit at a Time
Whether you see a dentist once or several times per year, routine dental checkups are all about preventive care. When you see a dental professional, they’ll let you know if you’re doing a good job with your at-home oral hygiene, or if you need to improve it. Plus, treating oral problems in their early stages is usually less expensive and time-consuming than visiting a dentist only when you’re in pain. If you need an affordable alternative to dental insurance that can give you access to the care you need while on a budget, consider joining a dental savings plan.
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