Visiting your dentist regularly as a child might have seemed daunting, but it was necessary. Of course, as an adult, you no longer have someone making appointments for you. Even if your teeth seem okay, you might still be wondering how often you should see your dentist. The truth is, the answer will depend on your oral health and lifestyle habits. While one person might require numerous trips a year, others could be fine with only an annual maintenance check up throughout most of their adult life.
There’s no perfect number of dental visits recommended by professionals since dental health differs from person to person. Professionals usually recommend at least one to two trips annually. That way, even if your mouth is healthy, you can still get a professional cleaning and a checkup. Minor issues can be detected early with routine checkups before they become a significant issue.
You might be asked to come in for follow-up check ups to ensure that the instruments are working the way they should when you receive dental work. Whether that involves having a cavity filled, getting a crown, or getting equipped with dentures, a follow-up appointment lets your dentist check your progress. They want to make sure their work produces the right results, and they want to answer any questions you may have about personal care following your dental procedure.
Changes to Dental Health
In addition to your regular visits throughout the year, you should also schedule an appointment when you notice changes to your oral health, especially if you start to experience pain. Chipped teeth, swollen or bleeding gums, persistent tooth pain, and sensitivity to cold or hot are all issues to bring up to your dentist once you notice them. When it comes to oral pain, letting the issue fester usually makes the problem worse.
There are different groups of people who are considered to be at higher risk for dental issues. These individuals should see a dentist more often. This is a list of those who may need to increase their annual dental visits because of changes with hormones, habits, or health.
- Pregnant women – A spike in hormones during pregnancy can increase your chances of tooth decay, swollen gums, and sensitivity. That is why you should talk to your dentist about any oral pain you experience. Pregnancy can even increase your risk of oral infection, which can lead to preterm delivery. Let your dentist know that you are pregnant as soon as you know.
- Smokers – You have a higher risk of gum disease and tooth decay as a smoker. The chemicals in cigarettes and the drying effect of smoke in your mouth inhibits saliva production, so bacteria is not adequately rinsed from your teeth. While it is best to quit smoking altogether, your dentist can give you tips to care for your mouth if you do not.
- Cancer patients – If you need to undergo chemotherapy as part of your cancer treatment, you should see your dentist before you begin. Chemotherapy can cause dry mouth and jaw stiffness, both of which impact your quality of life. Your dentist will check to make sure permanent damage is not being done, and offer you ways to better cope with oral side effects.
How often you decide to go to the dentist will depend on your health, ongoing concerns, and risk factors. In the end, one or two annual appointments, plus extra visits when needed, should be enough preventative maintenance to keep your teeth healthy in the long run.