It is quite common here in Malaysia that a lot of us do not know how often we should have our dental check-ups.
Do you know how often you should see your dentist?
A common belief of the answer to this question is twice a year.
The origin of this rule is still debatable, but the most agreeable source to this notion has turn out to be from an advertisement - yes, an ad.
And this advertorial message has been carried down through generations!
So when should we have our dental check-ups?
“Going on a date, Shalini?”
“Well, not exactly. I have a dental appointment, but the dentist is quite handsome, though!”
The basic rule (regardless of its origin) worldwide is twice a year or if you have good oral health, once a year.
It is important to have dental check-ups regardless if you have underlying oral conditions or not.
Usually, oral problems or diseases only cause pain when they are in the advanced stages. This includes cavities, gum disease, and oral cancer.
Prevention is always better than cure, so having dental check-ups would allow dentists to treat or manage any oral conditions early to prevent them from worsening.
See your dentist more often if...
“A dental appointment, again? How many times do you need to go to the dentist - are you sure you’re not going just to see him?”
“Well you’re one to say, when was your last dental check-up? 2 years ago?"
Shalini wasn’t wrong. Dollah haven’t had a dental check-up in centuries. It is long overdue that he should make an appointment soon.
Sometimes, you need to visit the dentist more often than the basic twice-a-year rule.
This is applicable for a high-risk group in dental and oral care, including smokers, pregnant mothers, people with gum disease, low immunity, and people who practise poor oral hygiene.
For the high-risk group, it is recommended to have dental check-ups every 3 to 4 months (of course, the best advice is to have a recommendation from your dental practitioner - they’ve seen your oral condition, they know best!).
Pregnant women experience hormonal changes and spikes from time to time. This can cause swollen gums, tooth sensitivity, and being prone to tooth decay.
The pregnancy process can also cause calcium loss.
Calcium is essential in the health of teeth and bones, so dental check-ups are important so that you can detect any problems or oral conditions requiring treatment or management early on.
If you smoke, you may be prone to oral conditions like gum disease, tooth decay and dry mouth.
This is caused by the ingredients present in cigarettes, particularly tar and nicotine, and the smoke produced during smoking.
The smoke absorbs moisture and leaves your mouth dry.
Of course, the best call for oral care is to practise diligent and thorough oral hygiene.
However, if you don’t fancy brushing, rinsing, flossing and cleaning consistently, this can mean more visits to the dentist.
Sometimes, plaque and tartar can begin to build up around our teeth only 1 or 2 weeks after our teeth cleaning and scaling procedures without proper oral hygiene care!
If you have dental restorative materials like crowns or veneers, teeth whitening procedures, or braces, you would also have more frequent visits to your dental clinic, usually as scheduled by your dentist.
See your dentist immediately if...
If you have any unpleasant feelings or experience any pain, you would want to visit a dentist immediately.
Always be alert to:
- Pain in teeth, gums, inner cheek
- Sensitive reaction to food or drinks
- Changes in gum condition (colour, texture, shape, size)
- Changes in chewing ability
If you have any conditions that are abnormal or are different from your usual oral condition, don’t tolerate the pain. Delaying your treatment or checkup can only worsen the condition and make the treatment more complicated. Find a dental clinic closest to you or your preferred dentist to run a check-up immediately.
What happens during your dental check-up
If you haven’t been visiting your dentist regularly, having a dental check-up can be quite daunting and unfamiliar for you.
Sometimes, people avoid or worry about dental check-ups because they are not sure how the experience is like sitting on that dental chair opening up your mouth uncomfortably for a certain period.
So here are what usually happen when you have your dental check-up:
- Thorough cleaning and scaling of teeth and gums (much more effective cleaning than regular brushing!)
- Removal of any plaque or tartar buildup around your teeth
- Flossing, gentle polishing, brushing of teeth to end the session
- A thorough examination of your oral health
At the end of the session, your dentist would be able to identify any oral conditions you have that require attention and treatment, and further steps can be taken to curb any problems before they develop further.
According to studies, there are actually no huge differences in oral health between the different frequencies of dental visits.
This is because the most important point is not how many times you visit your dentist a year, but how familiar you (and your dentist!) are with your oral condition, and how you adjust your dental check-ups accordingly.
The optimal dental check-up frequency differs from one person to another. It is especially dependent on individual risk factors and the health of our teeth, gums, and oral cavity in general.
So in other words, you need to know your mouth to know how to care for it - and to do that, you’d need to start seeing your dentist to get an oral examination, find a dental clinic near you here today!
Myth: Some people believe that teeth cleaning and scaling too many times can wear off the enamel (the outer layer of our teeth).
After studies have been done, this myth has been found to be untrue as materials and processes in teeth cleaning are usually not abrasive in nature and are adjusted according to the condition of your teeth and gums.
How often do you visit your dentist?
Do you have any secret remedies in maintaining good oral health?
Share your thoughts with me in the comments below!