How Often Should I Go to the Dentist?

A dentist may use special instruments to remove the buildup of plaque that a person may miss with regular brushing and flossing.
Dental X-ray.
A dentist examines a patient's teeth.
Article Details
  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 13 April 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Years ago, people didn't have access to regular dental care, and tooth decay was much more of a problem than it is today. However, access to dental care only helps if you see your dentist regularly. Generally speaking, it is best to go to the dentist every six months. When you go to the dentist every six months, you enable your dental-care provider to take care of routine maintenance and preventative processes that can help you to stop tooth decay or head it off before it even begins. You also allow your dentist to take note of any serious problems that may be developing.

When you go to the dentist every six months, you can generally expect to have a tooth cleaning done. This regular cleaning is intended to scrape off the plaque and tartar that you're unable to get off with regular tooth brushing. Your dentist may also use special instruments, or even regular dental floss, between your teeth to get out the buildup you may miss with your regular oral hygiene routine. In addition, your dentist may apply fluoride to your teeth to further prevent decay.

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In addition to your cleanings, your dentist will regularly examine your mouth for signs of decay and gum disease. Using a mirror and special dental instruments, he will typically tap and probe each tooth to discover whether or not it has problems. He may also check for pockets of space between your gums and your teeth. Too much space between your teeth and the gums may indicate the early stages of gum disease. Additionally, your dentist will probably look for visible signs of oral cancer at every regular examination.

Besides regular cleanings, you can also expect periodic x-rays when you go to the dentist regularly. These x-rays are intended to catch problems that your dentist may not see with the naked eye. For example, if you have a cavity that is about to touch your nerve, an x-ray will demonstrate this to your dentist much more reliably than if he simply looked at it. Likewise, dental x-rays can discover such things as impacted teeth, cysts and abscesses.

Though most people recommend that you go to the dentist every 6 months, you may need to go more frequently. For example, if you start to have pain in a tooth, in your gums or in any other part of your mouth, you don't want to wait for your six-month checkup in order to go to the dentist. Instead, it is best to make an appointment right away to head off problems.

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Discuss this Article

anon276612
Post 4

Thank you for this information. I have been taking my kids to the dentist once a year since they were three. I take them in more often if they have a tooth bothering them. Typically the once a year visit is just fine. Hopefully my next baby doesn't have awful teeth!

John57
Post 3

My friend had not seen a dentist very a long time because she was scared of the dentist. She became very anxious just thinking about it, and whenever she did go, always had her husband come along with her.

Everybody reacts differently to the dentist, and they have several ways to help you stay calm. Many dentists have the opportunity to listen to music, and nitrous oxide is always an option if you really need it.

I always like to listen to music because it helps drown out all of the noise around me. I hate hearing the sound of the drills and do better if it isn't so loud.

Mykol
Post 2

@anon25102 - That is what my hygienist does. They usually give me a choice of what flavor of paste I prefer. Everything from mint, cherry and even chocolate. After a good cleaning and flossing, it is amazing how clean my teeth feel.

My goal is to keep my teeth healthy so I don't have to go back to the dentist for another 6 months. If you have a large amount of tartar and plaque build up during that time, sometimes they will ask to see you more often. Usually this happens if you have not been seen for several years. Always a good motivation for me to keep my regular appointments.

anon25102
Post 1

Along with the scraping of the teeth to remove tarter, isn't it customary for the hygienist to use a paste and spinning brush to further clean your teeth?

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