The standard recommendation is to visit twice a year for check-ups and cleanings. This frequency level works well for most people. Patients with implants, crowns and some people with gum disease, a genetic predisposition for plaque build-up or cavities, or a weakened immune system might need to visit the dentist more frequently for optimal care.
Also, keep in mind that certain life events, particularly those that cause stress or illness, might cause changes in the mouth or the development of an infection, and might make more frequent visits to the dentist necessary. At the other extreme, people who have taken great care of their teeth and gums, and have gone years without any problems whatsoever might choose to lengthen the time between visits. Ask us what visitation schedule works best for your state of dental health.
The three most important reasons that most strongly support the twice-yearly visitation schedule are:
- To allow your dentist to check for problems that you might not see or feel.
- To allow your dentist to find early signs of decay (Decay doesn’t become visible or cause pain until it reaches more advanced stages.)
- To treat any othis oral health problems found (Generally, the earlier a problem is found, the more manageable it is.)
What happens at the typical check-up appointment?
The following oral health care activities usually take place at the typical dental check-up visit:
- Professionals who will treat you – Two oral health care professionals – the dentist and the dental hygienist – will likely see you. The hygienist will conduct an initial oral exam of your gums and teeth, document any changes in your overall health and medicine use, clean and polish your teeth, talk to you about caring for your teeth and gums, and answer any questions you might have about home care products. The dentist will also conduct an oral exam of your mouth (for signs of oral cancer or othis diseases), gums, and teeth; ask about changes in your overall health or medicine use; review the cleaning done by the hygienist; diagnose any oral health problems; and make treatment recommendations.
- Cleaning – Although home-based tooth brushing and flossing help remove plaque, only a professional cleaning – provided by the dentist or dental hygienist – can thoroughly clean your teeth and remove the hardened plaque (called calculus or tartar) that builds up on teeth. The hygienists use a series of metal hand instruments to clean your teeth.
- Polishing – After your teeth have been cleaned, they are polished to remove plaque and stains on the tooth surface. The polish contains an abrasive substance and fluoride, and is applied using a small rotating rubber cup or brush attached to the dental hand piece.
- Prevention – The hygienist might offer additional instructions for you to follow at home, based on the results of your exam. Don’t hesitate to ask us for instructions about brushing or flossing, or general care questions about your teeth and gums.
- X-rays – X-rays might be taken during your check up. The dentist will consider your clinical examination, dental history, and risk for developing cavities in determining the frequency for x-rays.
- Treatment recommendations – If any oral health problems are identified during your examination, the dentist will make recommendations for the best next steps. These might include referral to another oral health care specialist, additional diagnostic tests, or advice to return for restoration work or additional oral health care.