Do I really have to go to the dentist every six months?

Nov 17, 2014

Toothbrush

Great home care (your brushing, flossing, and eating habits) will make your visit to the dentist a pleasant part of preventative health.

Visiting the Dentist Every Six Months?

You've heard the advice your whole life:  To keep a healthy smile and mouth, you must go to the dentist every six months. But just how accurate is this approach? Is it right for everybody?

In a word, no. While doing anything every six months establishes a routine that's easy to follow, it's not right for everybody. The right approach is to have your dentist assess your teeth, gums and mouth where they are now and advise you on what schedule might be right for you.

Dental care must be personalized

Just this past year, the New York Times published news about a study by The Journal of Dental Research, which suggested that the six month rule is, like many rules, just an average. For some patients who have high risk factors for tooth loss -- things like diabetes, smoking or family history -- going to the dentist twice a year is not going to be enough.

“If you are high risk, it is much more important for you to be seen frequently, but for the low-risk people it’s not,” said  Dr. William V. Giannobile, the study’s lead author and the chairman of the department of periodontics at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry.“The take-away is not that you don’t need to see the dentist, it’s that each patient needs to be treated in their own individual way,” he added.

More and more, dentists and dental researchers are finding that like with all health care, a one-size-fits-all approach is not just inappropriate, it's just plain wrong.

How can you tell if you're at risk for periodontal disease, tooth loss or tooth decay? How do you know what the right schedule for cleanings is for you? Well, you need a dentist and a hygienist you can trust, someone who will accurately assess the state of your teeth and will advise you on how best to pair great home care with regular cleanings -- whatever schedule that is for you.

The final word on cleaning frequency

At Dr. Diesburg's dental clinic in McMinnville, we are interested in arming you with the right information to help support you in caring for your teeth. For some people, who have excellent home care and healthy gums, a yearly visit to the dentist will suffice. But for many others, going to the dentist every six months is not frequent enough.

We have many patients who are on a quarterly schedule of deep cleanings with scaling and root planing. We have others we see less frequently, and with no loss of health to them (though we miss seeing their faces as often!).

In the end, you are the person in charge of your dental health. We see ourselves as the people who will give you the right information and support to get you to optimal oral health, and the ones whose mission it is to keep you there.

Sure, it would be nice to see you at the dentist every six months. But we'd much rather look in your mouth, advise you on what's best for you and see you at the dentist at whatever schedule is right for you.

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