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Should My Family Go to The Dentist?

Should My Family Go to The Dentist?

“See your dentist twice a year.” How many times have you heard this advice? For a large majority of people, bi-annual dental check-ups are all they need. But for others, there’s more to consider.

Even if you see a dentist every six months for a checkup, the procedures that your dental team will provide can vary from one visit to the next. Here’s a general breakdown of how often (or when) certain types of procedures need to be looked into:

Periodic Exams and X-rays

This is your typical “check-up” visit. It involves an exam with your dentist, along with periodic x-rays such as “bitewings.” During the appointment, your dentist will examine your entire mouth to screen for the following concerns:

  • Oral cancer or pre-cancerous/pathological tissues
  • Symptoms of gum disease and tooth loss
  • Integrity of existing dental restorations
  • Stability of the teeth
  • Wear, erosion, or fractures
  • Early signs of decay, such as decalcification or “sticky” areas in the deep pits and grooves of the teeth
  • Dark areas on your x-rays, indicating some form of dental disease

While your dentist should conduct this exam no less than once a year, most prefer to do it on a bi-annual basis. As such, they can intervene as soon as early signs of decay or infection are noticed. This can limit the need for extensive (and expensive) treatments later.

Prophylaxis Cleanings Every Six Months

Most people combine their check-up with a trip to see the hygienist to have their teeth cleaned. In addition to having your dentist examine your teeth, these check-up visits will typically include a preventive cleaning, or “prophylaxis.”

During your cleaning, the hygienist will remove calcified tartar deposits and stain throughout your mouth. This helps to create a clean baseline environment in your mouth that is easier for you to maintain. He or she can also advise you how to keep your smile bright and strong – from how to brush your teeth to what types of food to eat (and avoid!)

Your Child’s First Dental Appointment

New parents often want to know when it’s time to bring their children to see the dentist for a check-up. The American Board of Pediatrics and American Board of Pediatric Dentistry agree that every child should see a dentist for their first check-up by age one.

These early appointments serve several purposes, including:

  • Familiarizing your child with the dental office, thereby reducing anxiety during subsequent appointments
  • Focusing on preventive care, rather than waiting until your child is experiencing pain or a dental emergency
  • Interceptive therapies to avoid serious dental problems later, thus reducing how much treatment is needed in the future.

Orthodontic Evaluations by Age Seven

Your family dentist should perform an orthodontic evaluation on your child each year, beginning around age 7. This screening assesses how the primary (baby) teeth and jaw formation are impacting the eruption patterns of the permanent (adult) teeth.

Early intervention and growth modification can reduce the length of orthodontic treatment for teens and adults, assuming concerns are addressed while the child is still growing.

Comprehensive Full Mouth X-Rays (Every 3-5 Years)

At your very first appointment, and about every 3-5 years thereafter (depending on your dental history,) your dentist will take a series of “full mouth x-rays.” These panoramic or multiple-shot images allow your provider to establish a baseline reading of your current oral health and compare it to previous or future visits. They are also used when planning large treatment cases, such as smile makeovers or full mouth rehabilitation.

While we’re on the topic of dental x-rays, the use of digital technology has made the procedure safer than ever before. In fact, the levels of radiation used in a set of digital dental x-rays are less than what a person would be exposed to on a day out at the beach, or on a transcontinental flight.

Periodontal Therapy and Maintenance

Finally, if you’ve had gum disease, you’ll need to see your dentist and hygienist for check-up more frequently. Depending on your severity and stage of recovery, this can be every three to four months. You may be tempted to put your visits off until six months from now, but this can allow the disease to relapse and lead to premature tooth loss.

Routine check-ups and bi-annual cleanings are very affordable with a dental discount plan. Contact today to find a plan that’s accepted by a family dentist or paediatric specialist in your area.

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