You already know that you should make regular dental checkups a habit, but how often do you need to see your dentist to maintain flawless dental hygiene? You already have a very busy schedule, and you think you can get by with brushing and flossing devotedly. Do you really need to see your dentist that often? Here's some advice from Dr. Bruce Hartley in our Calgary dental clinic.
Use the guide below to know exactly when and how often you should pay your dentist a visit.
Most dental and health organizations recommend that you see your dentist at least twice a year. Depending on your genetics and dental hygiene habits, you can sometimes get away with fewer checkups, but your teeth will thank you if you stay faithful to a biannual dentist visit.
Regular checkups allow your dentist to catch problems before they cause pain or secondary problems. Cavities, gum disease, oral cancer, and other problems don't show visible signs or cause pain until they've reached advanced stages-catching them early saves you a lot of headaches and a lot of money.
Some people have a higher risk for dental problems than others, so they should actually see the dentist 3-4 twice a year. You may have to visit your dentist 3-4 times a year if you fall into any of these categories:
You ingest tobacco regularly by chewing or smoking.
You have diabetes or another chronic condition.
You already have gum disease.
You have a weak immune response to infections.
You tend to have a lot of cavities, plaque, or tartar.
You may also have to schedule checkups more often if you have an unusual amount of stress or if you recently overcame a serious illness.
Even if you take really good care of your teeth, regular dental hygiene might not effectively prevent cavities or infections. Ask your dentist how often you should visit to maintain a healthy smile.
While dental checkups prevent serious dental illnesses, they can't prevent accidents from happening to your teeth. When accidents do happen, you have a very narrow window of opportunity to return your mouth to normal again.
The length of the window depends on the accident:
If you knock out a tooth while playing sports or doing any other activity, your dentist can reinsert it, but only if you visit him or her immediately. You shouldn't wait more than an hour to get to the dentist, but ideally you'll arrive there sooner (within 30 minutes).
To preserve your tooth in the meantime, take the following steps:
Pick up the tooth by its crown-don't touch the roots.
Rinse off the tooth with milk to make it clean, but don't scrub it.
Place the tooth back into the socket if possible.
Put the tooth in a cup of milk if you can't put it in the socket.
Go to your dentist immediately.
If you simply knock your tooth loose or out of alignment, you'll also want to see your dentist right away. You can try to gently move the tooth back, but if it won't move, don't force it. Let the dentist take care of it.
You can usually wait a few days if you only slightly break a tooth. Unless the break causes intense pain, you can schedule an appointment for a slightly later date. Just avoid chewing with that side of your mouth.
Meanwhile, you can prevent any further damage to your tooth by taking these steps:
Rinse the area gently with warm water.
Use ice or something cold to reduce swelling in the area if you have any.
Take pain medication if you need it.
Baby your chipped or cracked tooth until you can see your dentist.
Punctures and Tears
If you have an unusual amount of blood coming from somewhere inside your mouth, you should see your dentist or oral surgeon immediately. Our mouths heal very quickly, but if you continue to swallow blood or see blood when you touch your mouth, you definitely need to contact your dentist.
If you have this problem, have someone call your dentist while you try to stop the bleeding:
Rinse out your mouth with warm water.
Put gauze on the area (if possible) and apply pressure.
Don't take aspirin or ibuprofen-they thin your blood and only make the bleeding worse.
However, you can take acetaminophen as long as you follow the instructions on the bottle.
The dentist will likely stitch up the puncture or tear, and you'll have to return regularly for the next couple of weeks so he or she can monitor your progress.
So How Often Should You See Your Dentist?
Visit your dentist as often as you need to keep your mouth healthy. You should seek dental care for every emergency, and you should go in for regular checkups to maintain a healthy, beautiful smile. Having a good relationship with your dentist will keep your mouth healthy and happy for many years to come.