One of the most frequently repeated recommendations when it comes to oral healthcare is to visit your dentist for a cleaning appointment at least twice a year, and more often than not, three or four times a year. For some patients, any medical visit is often seen as a chore, especially for those with dental anxiety and/or busy work schedules. So making the trek to the dentist's office more than once annually is often done begrudgingly and gives rise to the question, “Why do I need to have my teeth professionally cleaned so often? Isn't my brushing and flossing enough?”
Let's break down these questions and explore their answers to make it easier to see why the dentist isn't trying to convince you to come in for their own benefit. First, why at least twice a year? Is that really the correct number of visits for teeth cleaning appointments?
How Often Should You Have Your Teeth Cleaned?
Is the usual rule of visiting the dentist for a cleaning every six months an accurate assessment? The answer is "it depends." According to the American Dental Association, patients should create a tailored cleaning schedule that suits the individual's oral healthcare profile and their risk factors. Although visiting the dentist every six months has often been the norm - the ADA says that new research shows that patients at low risk for disease may only need one cleaning visit per year.
However, don't immediately assume that means you can delay your visit. The ADA also notes that patients with more risk factors—such as cavities, gingivitis or periodontal disease — may see additional benefits from visits more frequent than twice per year. In fact, with the prevalence of periodontal disease expected to rise with the increase of the aging population, along with an already high prevalence amongst the younger population, more and more patients need to come an average of three times per year. So why do these regular visits matter so much, and why does the dentist need to examine patients’ potentially two or more times a year?
Why Regular Cleanings Matter So Much
Although teeth may feel clean after a regular dental hygiene appointment that's not necessarily the only reason for scheduling regular visits. It is true that dental tools are specifically designed to reach tartar and plaque in areas and ways that a toothbrush and floss cannot. However, it is also important for the dentist or hygienist to regularly examine the mouth for signs of developing problems or disease. These routine visits not only make it easier to detect issues such as cavities, but they also let the dentist look for signs of poor gum and bone health—gingivitis and periodontitis, respectively—and oral cancer. Noticing the signs of problems developing earlier allows preventative care, which can help you avoid more significant problems in the future.
What Can Happen When You Skip a Cleaning
Although missing one cleaning appointment isn't the end of the world for patients that have excellent oral hygiene, that doesn't mean you should make a habit of it. Some patients build up plaque and tartar so quickly that skipping even one cleaning can have a negative impact. Patients with regular dry mouth, dexterity problems preventing proper oral hygiene, or genetically predisposed to gingivitis and periodontitis fall into the group that should never skip appointments. Additionally, cavities can develop more quickly than you realize and by missing a routine exam you could end up facing the need for a filling after your next visit. Help your dentist maintain a healthy mouth and a bright smile by sticking with the routine they recommend based on your needs. Trust us when we say that we want our patients to avoid any major oral health problems just as much as they do.
Finding Friendly Help With Your Oral Hygiene Today
When was the last time you went in for a professional dental cleaning? If you can't remember your previous visit or if you know it's been more than a year, now could be the perfect time to schedule a visit at the practice of Dr. Nargiz I. Zadeh. By providing our patients with compassionate dental care accompanied by clear explanations of the "whys" behind any procedure, we aim to help others embrace a lifetime of better oral health. Find out how to schedule a visit for a cleaning as a new patient when you contact our offices today.
A Testimonial From Vicki, Dr. Nargiz I. Zadeh's Patient in Tarzana, CA
Very professional experience. My hygienist was friendly and did a great job cleaning my teeth. Dr. Zadeh is wonderful.