How long is too long between dentist visits?

For decades, dentists have urged all adults to schedule preventive visits every six months. However, a new study reveals that annual cleanings may be appropriate for adults without certain risk factors for periodontal disease, while people at high risk may need to go more often. Commonly known as x-rays, x-rays are a very important tool that helps a dentist diagnose your oral health needs. You can reduce the time you spend in the dentist's chair by brushing twice a day, flossing at least once a day, and visiting the dentist more often.

Today, many organizations, such as the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, still recommend six monthly checkups. Once your dentist has thoroughly examined your teeth and gums, he or she will talk with you about the next steps. They found a single controlled study in which patients were randomly assigned to see the dentist once a year or every two years. In 2000, three-quarters of the dentists surveyed in New York recommended six monthly check-ups, despite the lack of studies to determine whether the frequency of visits made a difference for patients at low risk of tooth decay or gum disease.

On the other hand, your dentist may need to recommend that you schedule a follow-up appointment for a filling or a more complex procedure. With that in mind, let's see how much time you can safely go without visiting the dentist and why regular visits are beneficial. If excess plaque makes you feel too embarrassed to go to the dentist, there's nothing to worry about; experienced dentists and hygienists treat each patient in a compassionate and non-judgmental manner. The more committed you are to keeping your mouth, teeth and gums healthy, the less likely you are to see the dentist often.

Even if your dentist doesn't detect any problems, they're likely to remind you to continue to care for your teeth and clean them properly, although there's also no consensus on the best way to do so. After the hygienist has thoroughly cleaned your teeth, your dentist will carefully inspect for cavities or signs of periodontal disease. One study found that going to the dentist more than once a year meant no difference in tumor size at the time of diagnosis of oral cancer, while another found that if people waited more than a year between visits, tumors could be more advanced when detected. Even when a study reveals, for example, that children who visit the dentist often have fewer fillings, there may be other factors at play.

These routine visits allow the dentist to find any dental problems and other oral health problems that you may not have noticed. Giannobile, lead author of the study and director of the periodontics department at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry.

Keri Levitch
Keri Levitch

Professional beer guru. Unapologetic thinker. Award-winning tv maven. Incurable sushi geek. Evil tv lover.

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