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How Often Should I Go to the Dentist?

By November 30, 2021 August 15th, 2023 No Comments
a woman in the dentist's office

For some of us, going to the dentist is just part of our routine. We schedule our exams and checkups on a regular basis, following all of the recommendations for optimal oral health. Other people choose to go to the dentist just occasionally or perhaps just when they are experiencing dental issues that need to be addressed.

So – how often should you go to the dentist? The general recommendation is that you should visit the dentist once or twice a year but let’s break it down just a little bit more for you.

Today, we’re going to focus on how often you should go to the dentist and why it is so important. 

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Routine Exams and Cleaning

When you look up how often you should go to the dentist, the first thing you will find is the typical recommendation for routine exams and cleaning. Most dental offices recommend having a professional cleaning and exam every 6 months. In fact, they usually will schedule your next 6-month appointment before you leave.

If you use dental insurance for your exams and cleaning, the majority of dental insurance companies allow for 2 exams. You should check with your insurance company to be sure of their coverage details.

At a minimum, you should plan to have dental cleaning and exams completed at least once a year for the best oral health. With that being said, there may be times that it is necessary to head to the dentist a little more often as well so let’s talk about some of those. 

Diabetic Individual

Someone with diabetes may be far more prone to have oral health issues. The issues might be related specifically to insulin levels or even the medication they have to take to regulate insulin. Whatever the case may be, a diabetic person has an increased dental risk for problems.

For the diabetic individual, it is recommended to visit the dentist every 3 months rather than every 6 months.

Pregnant Individual

When you are pregnant, the need of visiting the dentist will vary. However, they want to be sure that you don’t face infections or anything like that while you are pregnant so you may need to have service or visit the dentist more often during pregnancy.

The goal here is just to make sure there are no extra things going on in your mouth that could be harmful to your health. Your dentist may even decide to provide fillings, root canals, or have a tooth pulled to help your oral health.

Any dental procedures should also be cleared with your doctor for safety purposes as well.

You may not have to go to the dentist extra when you are pregnant but you should have at least one dental visit, see the dentist if you experience issues, and take care to follow oral health recommendations (like brushing twice a day).

Individuals Who Smoke

Smokers are at a higher risk of oral health issues because of the ingredients in cigarettes. They are more likely to experience gum disease, infections, and tooth decay over time. Smoking is incredibly hard on your teeth. Smoking can also lead to discoloration of your teeth.

While the typical recommendation is to go to the dentist twice a year if you are not experiencing issues, a smoker may want to consider going more often. Going every three months will give a smoker the opportunity to stay on top of any potential dental issues. They can also get their teeth cleaned more frequently and help with the staining.

Things can escalate quickly for smokers so staying on top of oral hygiene is incredibly important to avoid further dental issues.

Gum Disease

Catching the possibility of gum disease typically can happen at your routine exams. Gum disease may or may not cause pain early on so detecting gum disease is easy to do at your regular checkups. Once gum disease is detected, you may not need to have extra dental visits unless you are experiencing issues.

In most cases, an individual with gum disease can stick to their regular checkups every 6 months but if you experience pain or other issues, consider making an appointment early to be treated or seen by your dentist.

Weakened Immune Systems

Your immune system plays a vital role in your health from your head to your toes. This includes your dental health. If you have a weakened immune system, this could affect your oral health as well. With a weakened immune system, you might be more prone to infections, cavities, and even varying gum diseases.

If you know you have a weakened immune system, it’s a good idea to stay on top of your oral health. Plan your regular bi-annual cleanings and exams and then see the dentist if you experience any issues in between those appointments.

You don’t necessarily have to visit the dentist more often, unless you are experiencing issues. However, you do want to be aware that you may be more prone to issues so stay on top of your dental health!

Prone to Dental Issues

Finally, let’s talk about the individual who perhaps has sensitive teeth or maybe your enamel simply isn’t as strong and reliable as someone else. If you have found yourself to be more prone to plaque building up or things like cavities, you will want to be proactive.

Again, you can stick to your bi-annual exams and cleanings but you need to be mindful that this may not always be enough. If you are experiencing any issues or suspect that you have a problem that needs to be taken care of, go ahead and visit the dentist in between your regular appointments to have it taken care of.

Why Dental Visits Are So Important

It’s possible for individuals who do everything they can to be proactive to still experience dental issues. On the other hand, even with optimal oral health, it’s still important to see your dentist regularly just to be sure nothing is going on. This is why bi-annual exams are recommended and why insurance typically covers them at this time frame as well.

You can compare the need to go to your dentist to the need to have a wellness exam at your doctor annually. Both of these are designed to review your health and create a plan if anything is abnormal or appears to be wrong.

Visiting the dentist for your routine cleaning and exam once or twice a year is the best way to be proactive about your oral health. You may not even realize there is a problem related to your teeth or mouth until you’re facing a dental emergency or severe pain.

However, the dentist and the hygienist are trained to check for problems and to make you aware of potential issues before they become emergent. It’s better to be proactive than it is to need an emergency dental visit on the weekend and quite a bit more affordable as well.

Did you know that your hygienist and dentist are far more likely to catch a problem before it gets out of hand? Of course, you have to give them the chance to do so by going to your appointments every 6 months at a minimum.

Giving the dentist the opportunity to note red flags, make recommendations, and pinpoint issues before they get worse just might save you a lot more money later on.

a woman at the dentist's office looking at her teeth in the mirror

Proactive Oral Hygiene

If you want to keep your dental visits to a minimum, it’s a great idea to be proactive about your dental health. There are several things you can do at home to take care of your oral health and reduce the need to have specific treatment from your dentist.

While being proactive can certainly be helpful, you should also know that some people are just more susceptible to dental issues and that is why it is also important to have your routine exams with the dentist.

If you’re looking for ways to be proactive about your oral hygiene, follow the recommendations for dental care.

Here are the general recommendations for optimal dental health.

  • Brush your teeth twice daily
  • Use floss at least once daily
  • Use an oral irrigator for extra clean
  • Stay away from things that harm or stain your teeth
  • Be proactive with routine dental exams

While we can’t avoid the dentist altogether, you can step up and take the best possible care of your teeth, regardless of your circumstance. Regular brushing and flossing will really go a long way to protect your teeth.

Final Thoughts

While going to the dentist isn’t always the most fun thing to do with our time, it is the best way to proactively care for our oral health and pinpoint any potential issues. Typically, you should plan to visit your dentist once or twice a year for a routine exam and professional cleaning.

It may be necessary to see the dentist more often under certain circumstances or if an unexpected dental situation arises that needs to be taken care of.

toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash and a towel

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