The rule that you should see a dentist every 6 months is generic advice. Depending on your health, dental hygiene, and other factors, you may need to see the dentist more frequently. In rare cases where there are no dental or health concerns, you may be able to reduce your visits to once a year.
Why See a Dentist at All?
Your dentist does more than examine and clean your teeth. The regular dental examination is used to check your lymph nodes, the condition of your lower jaw, and to check your mouth and tongue for diseases that could affect your teeth. The more serious the condition of your teeth and mouth, the more often you will need a checkup.
There are 3 Parts to Your Checkup:
- Head and Neck Examination. This includes an examination of your face and neck, including your lower jaw joints, lymph nodes, and to screen for oral cancer or indications of diabetes.
- Dental Examination. This checks your teeth, gums, and tongue, and the dentist will look for cavities, loose or misaligned teeth, and swelling or lesions in the mouth. Periodontal disease has been identified as a symptom of diabetes, as well.
- Oral Cleaning. This procedure gives your teeth and gums a thorough cleaning that reinforces your regular brushing and flossing. An oral cleaning may be required to remove plaque and tartar deposits as well as any surface staining.
Dental Health is Linked to Physical Health
Research has found links between your dental health and medical conditions you may be experiencing. An abscess may cause you to have an earache, for example. By detecting abnormalities in your mouth at an early stage, you may be able to get a treatment that avoids drawn-out medical care. Some types of dental infections may even lead to heart disease.
Brushing between visits is important, and dental experts have estimated that many oral problems can be avoided simply by flossing regularly. A bright smile is important for a professional occupation, but the importance of keeping your teeth, tongue, and gums clean goes far beyond self-confidence or a public image.
If your dentist recommends more frequent visits, it is because she feels your mouth needs to be monitored more closely. Unfortunately, insurance policies are not yet in synch with the importance of dental care. If your policy only provides for one checkup a year, but your dentist suggests two or more, it is in the interest of your own health that you attempt to negotiate with the insurance company or purchase supplemental coverage that allows for additional dental care.
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