The standard recommendation for dental check-ups is every six months. Why? Because in 6 months, a new cavity is less likely to eat through the tooth into the nerve, causing you serious pain. Also, if you have your teeth professionally cleaned every six months, it’s less likely that plaque and tartar will cause gum disease.
That said, 6 months is an average. Several factors affect how often you, as an individual, should have a routine check-up.
1. Dental hygiene
Are you diligent about brushing and flossing? Cavities are caused by bacteria feasting on the sugars in food remnants. If you brush and floss every 24 hours or so, fewer food particles and bacteria will be there to cause damage. As you get older, you may have to up your dental-hygiene routine. For example, if your gums are receding or your teeth have become crooked, there may be new places vulnerable to cavities that need to be carefully cleaned.
My family uses a toothpaste that has prescription-strength fluoride and an electric toothbrush that runs for two minutes and beeps at 30-second intervals, to tell the user when to start brushing a new section of the mouth. I also floss with dental tape rather than plain floss (round in cross-section).
All teeth are not created equal. Some people are born with grooves in their molars that are too narrow for toothbrush bristles to reach into. If you have that sort of teeth, minute food particles will get stuck there even if you brush and floss meticulously, and it’s likely that you’ll eventually develop cavities in your molars. Catching such cavities sooner rather than later will prevent pain and help preserve your natural teeth.
3. Food & Drink
The absolute worst thing for your teeth is food or drink that’s full of sugar, and that stays in your mouth a long time or that you munch for hours on end. Unless you buy sugar-free versions, all the following can have significant amounts of sugar:
* Fruit juice
* Lollipops, boxes of M&Ms, breath mints
* Cough drops
* Hostess Twinkies and similar snacks
The list of ingredients on packaged food is given in order from the most prevalent to the least. If one of the first 3 ingredients is sugar, corn syrup, fructose, or dextrose, I don’t buy it as a snack and we don’t keep it in the house. An exception now and then (at a party or at a friend’s, for example) won’t have a big effect if you avoid sugars most of the time.
You probably know if you’re cavity prone for any of the above reasons. If you don’t, ask your dentist to tell you based on your existing records, and talk about how often you should come in for check-ups. The money spent on check-ups is considerably less than the cost of filling major cavities.
Source by Salvatore J. Durante