Patients avoid the dentist because many of them associate the dental chair with pain and discomfort. This destructive thinking prevents many from getting the optimal dental attention they need. Prophylactic care, the frequent visits to the dentist, can save you from onerous and usually expensive treatment. Regular dental checkups allow you to take appropriate measures at an early stage of diseases. How often should you visit the dentist to avoid tooth decay and periodontitis? While it all depends on several factors, most dental professionals recommend that both adults and pediatric patients be seen every six months for cleaning and oral exams. Depending on the condition of your dentition or susceptibility to certain diseases, the doctor may suggest more frequent appointments.
The same applies to children. Baby teeth are less mineralized than permanent teeth, so cavities develop at a much faster rate. Parents should bring their children to the dentist’s office at least every six months, or more frequently if necessary.
Should I Visit the Dentist More Than Twice a Year?
You and your dentist may come to a mutual agreement in regards to the frequency of your dental checkups and cleaning. The majority of patients who practice proper oral hygiene and follow all the professional recommendations are expected to follow up every six months, but some exceptions to this rule exist. Your dentist may suggest more frequent visits if you meet the following criteria:
You Are Undergoing Cancer Treatment
The stress associated with cancer may cause you to push dental visits away, not making your priority list. However, the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research warns cancer patients that dental visits are crucial in preventing mouth issues from becoming severe or disturbing enough to stop or even delay cancer treatments.
Cancer treatments tend to lower your white blood cell count, and hence making you more vulnerable to infections. Ideally, any cancer treatment should begin with a dental checkup to ensure, prior to chemotherapy, that you do not have any underlying oral conditions, such as periodontitis, tooth decay, or mouth sores. Untreated, those may escalate as a result of cancer treatment. In addition, radiation therapy to the neck or head may decrease calcium levels in tooth enamel, causing cavities and dry mouth. Your dentist may suggest solutions to strengthen the enamel and keep your mouth moist.
You Are Pregnant
Dental visits should land on your pregnancy to-do list. Many women hesitate to see a dentist during pregnancy for the risks associated with treatment, such as exposure to radiation or anesthesia. Besides getting your regular cleanings and cavity fillings before the big day, your dentist will address all pregnancy-related dental concerns that are often overlooked by pregnant women.
If you are in the stage of family planning, get your dental act together before trying for a baby. Although oral exams and basic dental procedures can be safely performed during pregnancy, major work is often pushed until you give birth or finish breastfeeding. If you have any current dental problems, not only those may not be adequately treated during your state, but also pregnancy may intensify the issues.
Pregnancy Gingivitis, inflammation to the gums, may occur as a result of hormonal fluctuations pregnant women commonly experience. Many expecting ladies report bleeding gums attributing it to one of the pregnancy symptoms. While that may be true, it could also be an early sign of gum disease. If left untreated, gingivitis may become a more significant issue that demands immediate attention.
Pregnant women are more prone to developing tooth decay due to multiple factors. Morning sickness may contribute to the increased amount of acid in your mouth, which can damage your tooth enamel. Exhaustion and tender gums may play a part in neglecting proper oral care, allowing food debris and bacteria to accumulate in your mouth and consequently causing cavities.
You Have Diabetes
People with diabetes have a long list of specialists for regular checkups, including endocrinologists, nephrologists, podiatrists, and ophthalmologists. While it may seem time-consuming and most likely is, your dentist should have a rightful place on that record. It is recommended that diabetics visit the dentist every three months. Why so often? Because individuals with diabetes are high-risk patients for developing periodontal gum disease. And if your blood sugar levels are not adequately controlled, your chances of a severe form of gum disease triple, putting you at risk of teeth loss.
Elevated glucose in the blood causes damage to blood vessels, which consequently makes the gums less resistant to infection. The culprit provides a solid foundation for gum disease. Bacteria thrive on the glucose in your mouth, transforming it into acid that softens your enamel and may cause tooth decay.
People with diabetes are at a higher risk for the following conditions:
- dry mouth
- gum inflammation
- inadequate healing of tissues in the oral cavity
- thrush, which causes burning sensations to the tongue and mouth
You Are a Smoker
It doesn’t require a medical degree to understand how smoking puts you at risk for… well, everything. If you are a chronic smoker, you should consider seeing your dentist more frequently than the standard recommendations. Tobacco is one of the leading causes of gum disease, and we all know what happens when left untreated. Also, any major dental work requires your body to appropriately heal following the procedures, such as oral surgery. Smoking significantly inhibits your ability to heal, which is why many dentists suggest quitting smoking a month before and after many dental treatments, including bone grafting, implants, or prosthetics.
You Suffer From Cardiac Disease
You most likely heard that many heart issues begin in your mouth. While that is not necessarily true from the scientific point of view, many studies suggest that certain oral conditions may trigger the development of heart disease. Gum disease, for instance, is closely linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular issues. Poor oral hygiene contributes to bacterial infections in the bloodstream, which may impact heart valves. Loss of teeth is associated with coronary artery disease. And because all our bodily systems and functions are dependent on one another, diabetes and cardiovascular disease urge for prompt periodontal treatment. The list goes on and on, but the bottom line is that you should maintain an established relationship with your dentist if you suffer from any form of heart disease.
What’s the Conclusion?
Prevention is your golden ticket to perfect oral health. If you are still looking for reasons to postpone your dentist visit, think again. You can lead a long and healthy life by following professional advice and taking care of your dental concerns before they become issues requiring urgent and complicated treatments.