How Often Should You Go To The Dentist?
Dental health is an important part of overall health, yet a common question many ask is 'how often should you go to the dentist?"
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that adults and children visit the dentist every six months for a routine cleaning and checkup. However, some people may need to visit more or less often depending on their individual dental needs.
In this blog post, we'll explore the reasons to visit your dentist on a regular basis, and the ideal frequency of dental visits based on dental conditions and overall health.
Why it is important to see your dentist on a regular basis
Many people view going to the dentist as a necessary evil. However, there are actually many good reasons to see the dentist on a regular basis.
Prevent common dental issues
Regular dental visits can help prevent common dental problems including:
Tooth decay is caused by a combination of factors, including bacteria in the mouth, frequent snacking, sugary drinks, and poor oral hygiene. When these factors work together, they create an acidic environment in the mouth that breaks down the enamel, leading to cavities.
Tooth decay is preventable, and there are a few things you can do to lower your risk. These include practicing good oral hygiene by brushing and flossing regularly and limiting your intake of sugary foods and drinks.
The most important step you can take to prevent tooth decay is to see your dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings.
If left untreated, tooth decay can cause pain, infection, and even tooth loss. Additionally, tooth decay can also lead to other problems such as gum disease, as well as problems with eating and speaking.
Early detection and treatment can help to prevent the problems that tooth decay can cause.
Tooth cavities, also known as caries, are lesions that form on the teeth as a result of decay. Cavities occur when the hard outer layer of the tooth, known as the enamel, is broken down by acids. These acids are produced by bacteria that live in the mouth and feed on sugars and carbohydrates. The bacteria produce acids that attack the tooth enamel, causing it to break down and form a cavity.
Cavities are one of the most common dental problems, and they can occur at any age. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) estimates that nine out of ten adults in the U.S. have tooth decay.
However, they are most common in children and adults who have poor oral hygiene. Cavities can cause pain, sensitivity, and even tooth loss if they are not treated. It is easy to ignore cavities at the early stages when symptoms such as pain or teeth sensitivity are mild.
At your routine visit, your dentist will check for signs of tooth decay with the help of dental instruments. They will inspect your teeth and check for any soft areas while asking you if you experience sensitivty or pain.
If you do get a cavity, the good news is that it can be treated. Your dentist will likely recommend a filling, which will help to restore the tooth and prevent further decay.
Tooth enamel erosion
Tooth enamel is the hard outer layer of the tooth that protects it from damage. However, this protective layer can become weakened over time due to a number of factors, such as acidic drinks, dry mouth, and tooth grinding. When the enamel is weakened, it is more susceptible to erosion, which is the loss of tooth structure due to chemical or physical forces.
Erosion can cause a number of problems for the teeth, such as increased sensitivity, discoloration, and even cavities. It is important to be aware of the signs of tooth erosion and to take steps to prevent it.
At your dental visit, your dentist checks for signs of tooth enamel erosion and discolored teeth. They may advise a sealant, which is a thin coating that is applied to the teeth to protect them from damage.
For severe tooth erosion, your dentist may also recommend crowns or veneers to protect your teeth from any further damage.
Chipped or cracked tooth
When a tooth is chipped or cracked, it's important to seek treatment right away. If the damage is left untreated, it can lead to further problems, such as infection or tooth loss. In addition, chipped or cracked teeth can be very painful.
There are several reasons why teeth may become chipped or cracked. For instance, teeth can be damaged by hard foods, biting down on hard objects, or grinding your teeth. In some cases, teeth may also be damaged by decay or by injury.
Treatment for chipped or cracked teeth will vary depending on the extent of the damage. In some cases, a simple filling may be all that's needed. More serious cases may require a root canal or a dental crown. If you have a chipped or cracked tooth, it's important to see a dentist as soon as possible.
Sensitivity to cold and hot temperatures or sweet/acidic foods indicates tooth sensitivity. This condition can be caused by a number of things, including:
- Tooth decay: When tooth decay reaches the nerve of a tooth, it can cause the tooth to become sensitive.
- Gum disease: Gum disease can cause the gums to recede, exposing the roots of the teeth. This can make the teeth more sensitive.
- Teeth grinding: Teeth grinding can wear down the enamel on the teeth, making them more sensitive.
- Brushing too hard: Brushing too hard can also wear down the enamel on the teeth and make them more sensitive.
If you think you may have sensitive teeth, it's important to see a dentist so they can determine the cause of the problem. Once the cause is determined, the dentist can provide treatment to help relieve the sensitivity.
Impacted or misaligned teeth
The consequences of having impacted or misaligned teeth go beyond the aesthetic concerns most people have. If you or your child has impacted or misaligned teeth, it is important to seek treatment from an orthodontist in order to avoid more serious consequences.
If left untreated, impactions and misalignments can lead to tooth decay, gum disease, and even TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorders.
They can also make it difficult to clean your teeth properly, which can lead to plaque buildup and an increased risk of cavities.
While braces are the most common treatment for impactions and misalignments, there are a variety of other treatment options available. Your orthodontist will be able to recommend the best treatment plan for you or your child based on the severity of the misalignment or impaction.
Gum infection, also called periodontitis, is a serious gum disease that can lead to tooth loss and other health problems. Periodontitis is caused by bacteria that build up in your mouth and form plaque. If plaque is not removed, it can harden and turn into tartar. Tartar can then irritate your gums, which can lead to infection.
If you have periodontitis, your gums are inflamed and your tooth roots are affected. If not detected and treated in time, it can cause your teeth to become loose and eventually fall out.
If you think you might have periodontitis, it's important to see a dentist right away. They will be able to diagnose the problem and put you on a treatment plan. Treatment for periodontitis may include deep cleaning, antibiotics, and surgery. With proper treatment, you can get your gum infection under control and prevent the affected teeth from falling out.
Detect signs of oral cancer
Your dentist can identify issues early and provide treatment before they become more serious. For instance, oral cavity cancers can affect other organs if not detected and treated in time. In 2022, about 54,000 cases of oral cavity cancers were identified according to the American Cancer Society. Research shows that oral cavity cancers, when detected early, can be effectively treated and cured.
During a routine dental visit, your dentist examines your mouth and oral cavity as part of the oral cancer screening. The professional will check for mouth sores or white/ red patches in your mouth. Your dentist also checks for lumps in the tissues or other abnormalities in your mouth. They also examine your neck and throat for lumps.
In addition, seeing the dentist on a regular basis can help you to maintain good oral health. But what's the link between your oral health and overall health? Let's find out.
The link between your oral health and overall health
It's no secret that oral health is important to overall health. Poor dental hygiene can lead to a number of health problems, including gum disease, tooth loss, and even heart disease. That's why it's so important to brush and floss regularly and to see a dentist for checkups and cleanings.
But did you know that the mouth is actually a window into the rest of the body? Studies have shown that oral health can be a predictor of overall health and that problems in the mouth can be indicative of other underlying health conditions.
Research also shows poor oral health can be linked to an increased risk of medical conditions including stroke, diabetes, heart disease, and respiratory diseases such as pneumonia. While oral cancer is often an early sign of other types of cancer, such as ovarian cancer, studies also have found that a lack of oral health increases the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Poor oral health is also associated with pre-term births, underscoring the importance of regular dental checks for pregnant women.
Now that you know why you need to visit your dentist on a regular basis, it's time to answer the most important question: how often should you go to the dentist?
How often should you go to the dentist?
It is generally recommended that patients visit the dentist at least twice a year for regular checkups and professional teeth cleanings. This applies to those who have no symptoms or existing oral diseases or family history of any type of oral condition.
However, some patients may need to visit more often depending on their oral and overall health. Patients with gum disease, for example, may need to visit the dentist every three months or so.
Similarly, people with any of the following types of conditions will benefit by visiting their dentist once every 3 or 4 months a year:
- Pregnant women
- People with diabetes
- Aged 35 or more
- People with heart problems or cancer
- People with immune system conditions
- Individuals who have a dry mouth
- Those who lack the physical ability to maintain oral hygiene
- People with mental or neurological conditions who are unable to maintain oral health
- Those who have bleeding disorders, mouth ulcers, or other teeth/gum-related conditions
People who regularly consume the following colored foods or drinks also need more frequent visits to the dentist because they are at increased risk of developing discolored teeth/teeth staining.
- Red wine
- Black tea
- Sports drinks
In addition, those who have had the following dental procedures will also need to visit their dentist on a more frequent basis:
While there is no specific answer to the question ' how often should you go to the dentist?' it will depend on many factors such as:
- Your age
- Your oral health status
- Overall health
- Your aesthetic concerns and goals
- Family history of oral and other health conditions
- Whether you have had dental implants, veneers, orthodontics, braces, or other procedures
- Whether you need professional teeth cleaning or whitening
Irrespective of whether you have had any of these procedures or health conditions, you should never ignore signs of oral problems such as tooth pain, sensitivity, bleeding gums, or cracked/ chipped tooth.
Many times, conditions such as periodontitis or tooth decay may not show any signs in the early stages. They may have worsened significantly by the time you experience symptoms such as pain or sensitivity.
If you're not sure how often you should be going to the dentist, it's best to ask your dentist in Gainesville for advice. As the top-rated dentist in Gainesville, Dr. Brad Dixon assesses your oral health and recommends the frequency of visits that is right for you.