Your Family Dentist Explains The Six Month Dental Appointment Myth

We are all creatures of routine.  As a parent, one of my favorite routines is bedtime, specifically when it comes time to brush my kid’s teeth.  Not because they make it easy on me, willingly standing still and opening their mouths for a full two minutes while I make perfect circles around their little pearls.  Instead, as they squirm and resist, I am happy to continually remind them that their daddy is a dentist and they are lucky to get a professional cleaning every night, a routine many others only get twice a year.

That being said, it raises the question, “Why is it necessary to visit my dentist every six months?”  Some say the concept of routine dental exams began in the 18th century with Pierre Fauchard who wrote “Those who are diligent on the conservation of their teeth…ought to have them examined two or three times every year by an experienced dentist.”  Of course, more recently, dental insurance coverage has influenced many dental patients to only seek biannual checkups.  Interestingly enough, the ADA states to maintain your optimal oral health you need regular visits at intervals “determined by your dentist.

The reality is no dental patient is the same nor does everyone fit in the same dental routine.  Patients who may suffer with certain types of gum or periodontal disease may require more frequent visits.  At the same time, those adult or pediatric patients who are at a higher risk of tooth decay due to certain health conditions, disabilities, or poor oral hygiene, may consider a 3 or 4 month routine as a preventative measure.  Pregnant and nursing mothers at risk of pregnancy gingivitis should also modify their dental visits.  Some dental insurances will allow more frequent visits for those with periodontal conditions or women who are pregnant, but for the sake of good oral health, preventative measures may be essential despite insurance limitations.

Of course, the best way to determine what is best for you is to consult with your dentist at your next visit.  Make it a part of our routine.  Happy smiling!

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