Most dentists recommend that you automatically schedule an appointment to see them every 6 months. They do this for a couple of main reasons. Your dental insurance usually covers a visit at this frequency and the majority of people today should be seen every 6 months. What they generally don’t tell you is that some people would do better with a more customized schedule for cleanings and x-rays! Read below to see what I recommend and then bring it up with your dentist.
Previous or Active Periodontal Disease
You should be seen anywhere from every 3-6 months depending on how healthy your mouth currently is. Your dentist is really the only who can make this determination. If you aren’t seen this often you run the very real risk of losing additional bone around your teeth and eventually losing teeth to this. Generally you’ll also need a full mouth set of x-rays at your visit, bitewings every year, and a new full mouth series every 3-5 years.
High Risk (Any of the below)
- Recent cavities in the last year or two
- You drink soft drinks, sweet tea, or any other sweetened beverage on a consistent basis.
- You snack on simple carbohydrates or candy throughout the day.
- You brush sporadically or don’t floss
- You smoke or use chewing tobacco
- You have diabetes
- You are pregnant
Most people today fall into this category. You should see your dentist every 6 months and have x-rays every year. You are at high risk for additional cavities and periodontal disease and these can progress rapidly if not detected early.
- No cavities in the last 3-5 years.
- You brush morning and night and floss occasionally but not consistently.
You should be seen for cleanings every 6 months and x-rays once every 12-24 months.
- Good diet – Rarely drink sugary drinks and don’t snack throughout the day
- Minimal history of cavities
- Consistent brushing and flossing every single day.
If you’re one of these rare people (I’d estimate only about 1% of people fall into this category) you will likely be fine with seeing your dentist for a cleaning once a year and x-rays once every 2 years. If they mention you have a lot of build-up on your teeth, you should consider seeing them more often.