If you’re wondering how often you should go to the dentist, you’re not alone. And the truth is that there isn’t a one-size answer. Most experts agree—which we’ll explore in more detail below—that you should see the dentist for a dental exam and cleaning at least 2 times annually.
But not everyone’s mouth or oral health is identical, so these 2 visits per year aren’t a hard and fast rule. For example, if someone is more susceptible to cavity-causing tooth decay, their dentist may recommend more frequent visits to keep up with their oral health.
Importance of Going to the Dentist
Treating existing issues isn’t the only reason that you should see your dentist regularly, though. Preventative measures, such as good oral hygiene at home and an exam and cleaning every 6 months, can help prevent the need for expensive or uncomfortable treatments.
When your dentist examines your mouth, they can catch problems, such as cavities or gum disease, before they turn into dental emergencies. But emergencies aside, catching most problems earlier will typically result in more successful treatment.
For example, if tooth decay is caught early enough, it can actually be reversed before turning into a cavity that requires a filling.
Modified Dental Exam & Cleaning Schedule
As mentioned above, the Canadian Dental Association (CDA) recommends a minimum schedule of every 6 months for a dental exam and cleaning. It’s important to remember that your dentist may recommend a more frequent schedule based on your particular mouth health and needs.
Other things that may affect how often you should get an exam and cleaning can include:
- Personal oral hygiene: The CDA recommends brushing at least twice daily (30 minutes after a meal) for 2–3 minutes. They also suggest flossing at least once daily or after eating. An oral rinse or mouthwash is a good addition to your routine but should never replace brushing and flossing.
- Food and drinks: Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet is ideal for general good health. But making healthy choices can benefit your mouth immensely. For example, sugary food and drink or sticky and hard snacks could put you at higher risk of tooth decay or even tooth damage.
- Lifestyle: Smoking has many negative health effects that go beyond your lungs. For example, the CDC estimates that over 40% of adults who smoke have untreated tooth decay. It also increases your risk of oral cancer, gum disease, and other oral problems.
- Health: Your overall health can also play a role in how often your dentist thinks you should see them. Studies show that poor oral health can be connected to other problems in our body, such as heart disease, pregnancy complications, or diabetes. A healthy mouth isn’t a magic cure-all, but it’s a significant part of your overall health.
What to Expect During Your Appointment
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer for how your dentist appointment will go. Each dentist may do things slightly differently. For example, you may not need dental X-rays at every appointment. Or, if your dentist finds a cavity, they may recommend a filling during the same visit.
The physical exam is a significant part of your appointment. This is where your dentist will examine your mouth for things like broken or damaged teeth, signs of gum disease, cavities, improper teeth positioning, or mouth and throat cancer. Essentially, they are looking for anything abnormal that could be a problem for your oral health.
After your dentist examines your teeth, a dental hygienist is typically the professional who cleans your teeth. How you care for your teeth is a significant factor in how much work the hygienist has to do on your teeth.
Typically, they start by removing plaque and tartar from your teeth and around your gum line. After that, they will typically polish your teeth with gritty toothpaste.
Dental X-rays certainly aren’t needed at every appointment usually. But if you have fillings or your dentist suspects you could have tooth decay developing below the gum line, they may recommend X-rays.
Discuss Your Next Appointment With Your Dentist
Visiting your dentist should never be a scary experience. While dental anxiety may be a real thing, at Hill Top Dental Centre, we have oral sedation or nitrous oxide sedation options to help make your experience a comfortable one while you’re getting your mouth examined or teeth cleaned.
If you have any questions, please reach out to our office in Bond Head today.