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Do I Really Need to Go to the Dentist Every Six Months?

It’s one of those things, like changing the oil in your car. You’re supposed to do it every few months, but does it really matter? Many people wonder how often they should get their teeth cleaned and whether twice-a-year visits are truly necessary.

As it turns out, there’s a good reason that most dentists recommend visits every six months—and most insurance companies will pay for it. How often you should go to the dentist ultimately depends on your oral health history, but every six months is a good benchmark, even for otherwise healthy adults. Skipping a dental appointment can take a toll on your teeth and gums both now and in the future.

How Often Should You Get Your Teeth Cleaned Professionally?

To maintain stellar oral hygiene, you must make a habit of brushing your teeth twice daily. You should also floss once a day at a minimum. These are two easy tasks you can perform at home to remove food particles from your teeth and, in turn, keep your teeth and gums as healthy as possible. 

However, even a spectacular brushing and flossing routine will not remove all of the plaque buildup on your teeth. Some places are too hard to reach on your own, or in some cases, you will need a stronger tool than a toothbrush.

Debris Removal

If you’re wondering how often you should get your teeth cleaned, consider seeing your dentist twice yearly to ensure that all the plaque and tartar is removed from your teeth. Plaque is the soft debris that forms on your teeth after you eat. Meanwhile, tartar, which is also called calculus, is the hardened form of plaque that wasn’t removed. 

Plaque and tartar constantly accumulate along the gums and on the teeth. Even though flossing and brushing can certainly minimize such accumulation, they cannot totally prevent it. That’s where a dental hygienist comes in. He or she can perform the type of thorough and robust cleaning you need to prevent plaque and tartar from building up over the span of a few months.

toothpaste tube with toothbrush

What Happens During Your Cleaning

When you visit the dentist for a cleaning and exam, your hygienist will evaluate your teeth for signs of gum inflammation or decay. He or she will then remove the tartar and plaque present on your teeth. This is necessary for stifling the growth of bacteria, preventing the development of cavities, freshening your breath, and keeping your smile looking whiter. 

During this appointment, the dental staff might also take X-rays of your teeth to determine if you need additional treatment, such as dental fillings, crowns, or implants. In addition, your dental hygienist will likely rinse, floss, and polish your teeth. Fluoride may additionally be applied to your pearly whites to help to prevent cavities and strengthen the enamel. For those wondering how often you should get your teeth cleaned, all of these benefits demonstrate why six-month cleanings are worth the time.

Problem Prevention

Keep in mind that undergoing a cleaning every six months also offers the benefit of helping you to avoid more time-intensive and aggressive cleanings long term. These deep cleanings are known as scaling and root planing, which involves removing calculus both below and above the gumline to stop the progression of gum disease. This is important in that advanced gum disease, known as periodontal disease, can cause the gums to begin receding—a condition that might require periodontal surgery.

During your dental visit, your dentist can also pinpoint other important dental problems, such as alignment issues with your teeth. In this situation, you may be a candidate for orthodontic treatment using clear aligners, for example.

Other Ways Checkups Help

Getting your teeth cleaned regularly will furthermore help with detecting problems such as oral cancer. That’s because in addition to checking your teeth, your dentist will look carefully at your tongue and gums—the soft tissues surrounding your teeth. If you’re asking, “How often should I go to the dentist,” note that six-month checkups will allow you to detect and treat this potentially serious issue early rather than waiting until it’s too late for treatment.

The reality is that not every oral health problem causes pain initially. For this reason, you might not know that you have an issue until you are evaluated at your dentist’s office. By pinpointing such problems early on, your dental team can recommend swift treatment or propose adjustments to your dental care routine at home to address these issues.

dentist looking at a man’s teeth

More Often for High-Risk Groups

Ultimately, how often you should get your teeth cleaned depends on your current oral health and overall health condition. Note that going more frequently than every six months may be necessary if you belong to a high-risk group.

For instance, let’s say you smoke or use chewing tobacco. The plaque that builds up on your teeth will be stickier than it would if you did not use tobacco. This makes the plaque more likely to absorb bacteria, which can result in quicker cavities or increase your chances of developing periodontal disease.

The frequency of getting your teeth cleaned may be higher for patients with specific medical conditions as well. For instance, the saliva of people with diabetes may carry a larger amount of sugar compared with non-diabetics, which might lead to periodontal disease and tooth decay.

You may go to the dentist every three to four months if you currently suffer from gum disease. The same is true if you tend to develop large amounts of plaque and cavities due to genetics. Even great oral hygiene at home might not be enough for you to avoid frequent dental cleanings in this situation.

Learn More about How Often You Should Get Your Teeth Cleaned from Definitive Dental

At Definitive Dental, we pride ourselves on offering top-of-the-line dental cleanings and exams to keep your teeth in tip-top shape—or to get them there. 

Known for dentistry done right, we have earned more than 375 five-star reviews due to our excellent track record of listening to patients and helping them to maximize their health through our various treatments. We use the latest advances in dental technology for all of our patients for the best results.

Our practice is additionally committed to providing top-tier customer service through a caring, friendly staff. Whether you’re wondering how often you should get your teeth cleaned or how to tackle a specific dental problem, we’re here to help. Book a dental appointment with us by calling (972) 646-0660 or filling out our contact form. Let’s take your smile to new heights today!

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