It’s the same song and dance with you and your kids every year – you go to the dentist for a teeth cleaning, they announce if you have any new cavities or other concerns regarding your teeth, and then they schedule you to come back in six months. If you’re like most people, you might ask not to schedule the appointment yet, or cancel the week before the scheduled appointment. It’s more common than you might think, so why do dentists request that you and your kids see them every six months? And, do you really need to go back that often?
After a dental cleaning, you’ll notice that teeth feel smoother and are often whiter. That’s because dentists use special tools to remove plaque and tartar buildup that can’t be removed with at-home toothbrushes and floss. While that feeling may last for days and even months, the truth is that bacteria, which turns into plaque, begins coming back as soon as 30 minutes after the cleaning appointment. During the next 24-48 hours, it becomes fully colonized as tartar.
The longer you wait between dentist visits, the more likely plaque will turn into hardened tartar and cause damage to your healthy smile. Tartar — also known as calculus — if left alone can cause:
The average person should get teeth cleanings every six months, but there are certain scenarios that can impact this timeline. If you are diligent with your child’s teeth health, brush two to three times a day, floss regularly, and brush at an angle, your dentist may determine that you only need to get a teeth cleaning once a year.
Some people have better genes when it comes to mouth health, and on the opposite spectrum of that, some people, genetically, are predisposed to worsening mouth health. So, even if you take proper care of their teeth, they could be more susceptible to cavities and gum inflammation. If that’s the case, your dentist will suggest cleanings every six months or — in some rare cases — more often.
Ultimately, the decision of how often a teeth cleaning should be scheduled is up to you and your dentist. If your child rarely has cavities or problems with their teeth, talk to your dentist to see if a yearly visit is a viable option.
While genetics and oral care play a significant role in how often you should visit a dentist, there are other scenarios that can impact the timeline – including gum disease. After receiving a diagnosis of gum disease, dental check-ups every three months may be required. If gum disease is prevalent in your family, your children will be at a higher risk to get it also.
While your instinct may be to figure out ways to get out of bi-annually or annually dental appointments, there are several benefits to getting teeth cleaned more often. Not only will your child’s mouth feel and look cleaner, but sometimes their gums provide signs of other health issues too. Teeth cleaning appointments include the opportunity to identify symptoms of anemia, cardiovascular diseases, and other medical problems. By attending cleanings more often, you can prevent or fix gum problems sooner, minimize tartar buildup, and ensure that they enjoy a healthier smile.
Taking a child to the dentist can be a tiring, embarrassing, and frustrating experience. At AC Pediatric Dentistry, we understand this, and that’s why we want to make the experience pleasant and fun for children. Call us today or request an appointment online.