We all know that going to the dentist is important. But how often should you actually go? While the general rule of thumb is to visit the dentist every six months, some people may not need to go so often, and others may need more frequent checks.  

What is a Dental Checkup? 

A dental checkup is a routine dental exam that lets your dentist examine your mouth for signs of disease. During a dental checkup, Dr. Gould will examine your teeth, gums, tongue, and mouth to check for signs of cavities or gum disease or any abnormalities, review any X-rays that may have been taken, recommend any additional dental work you might need to maintain your dental health and discuss your overall oral health and habits. If any oral health problems are found during your examination, we will make recommendations for the best next steps.

After your regular checkup, Dr. Gould will recommend a date for your next visit. The time for your next checkup will depend on your oral hygiene, habits, and individual medical conditions. Twice yearly appointments work well for people with good oral hygiene, but those with greater risk factors of dental disease may need to schedule regular dental appointments more often (every three months or more).  

Benefits of Getting Regular Dental Exams 

Everyone should go for regular dental check-ups as these visits allow your dentist to find any dental problems and other oral health issues such as oral cancer early enough when they are still easily treatable. Decay doesn’t become visible or cause pain until it reaches more advanced stages, while oral cancer has an 85% 5-year survival rate if diagnosed at an early stage.  

What is a Dental Cleaning? 

Although at-home dental care such as brushing and flossing helps remove plaque, only professional dental cleaning can thoroughly clean your teeth and remove the hardened plaque (tartar) that builds up on teeth.  Plaque and tartar contain bacteria that can cause cavities and tooth decay, and any tartar that forms above your gum line can irritate and damage your gums. Over time, this might lead to progressive gum disease, which can damage the bones and tissues that hold your teeth in place, resulting in tooth loss. Gum disease has also been linked to heart disease and other health problems. 

Regular dental checkups every six months will remove plaque and tartar, helping prevent cavities and gum disease. In fact, in its early stages, gum disease can usually be stopped and reversed.  

What Happens at a Dental Cleaning? 

During a professional cleaning, we will start by scraping off built-up plaque and tartar that collects above and below the gum line before flossing between and around every tooth to remove any plaque or food particles.  

After cleaning your teeth, we’ll polish your teeth using a tooth polisher with a spinning head and slightly abrasive paste. This process removes any remaining plaque and stains on the tooth surface and will make your teeth smoother so that plaque will not collect as easily on them between visits to the dentist. 

Why Would I Need to See a Dentist More Than Twice a Year? 

General guidelines from the American dental association state that you should make an appointment to see a dentist every six months. While this is ideal for most people, some will need to come in every three months, and others may only need to visit a dental office once every nine or 12 months. This higher-risk group includes: 

  • People with a weak immune response  
  • Pregnant women 
  • Smokers 
  • People with health conditions like diabetes 
  • People with periodontal disease (gum disease) 
  • People with a history of plaque build-up or cavities 

You may also need regular dental visits more than twice a year if you need any dental treatments such as fillings, deep teeth cleanings, root canals, and teeth removal. The best way to find out often you need regular check-ups is by visiting your dentist. If you show signs of gingivitis or another serious problem your dentist may recommend increasing the frequency of your dental visits to protect the health of your teeth. If you have good oral hygiene habits, your teeth are in good shape and there are no obvious dental issues then you will likely only need regular check-ups every six months.

Dental Cleanings and Exams in Greenville, SC 

At Trail West Family Dentistry, we provide a wide range of services, including dental cleanings and exams that enhance your oral health and keep your smile looking great. If you’ve not had a dental exam or a professional dental cleaning within the past year, please contact us today to schedule an appointment.