How Often Should You Visit the Dentist?

If you don't have any oral diseases or a family history of oral problems, the standard frequency of dental visits for adults is a cleaning every six months. It's often said that you should go to the dentist twice a year, and this is a good general rule to follow. However, if you want to be sure how often you need to have a dental checkup, you should consider your mouth, hygiene habits, and overall well-being. Unfortunately, many people are afraid to go to the dentist, and the pandemic didn't help.

At the start of the coronavirus crisis, the American Dental Association recommended that dentists discontinue elective procedures. A few months later, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) called for the resumption of non-emergency dental care and issued guidance on best practices for sterilization and disinfection. A controlled study found that patients who were randomly assigned to see the dentist once a year or every two years had similar results. The study even went so far as to say that more than two years is fine for people who have demonstrated their commitment to caring for their teeth and gums.

Even if the dentist doesn't detect any problems, they'll likely remind you to keep taking care of your teeth and cleaning them properly. Fear of the dentist stands in the way of many people's oral health, but Generation Z (ages 18 to 25) leads the pack. Another survey of adults showed that those who had regular dental checkups had far fewer teeth missing than those who only went to the dentist for dental treatment. A survey conducted in the United Kingdom revealed that children who only went to the dentist when they noticed a problem had more decayed teeth and fillings than children with regularly scheduled visits.

These routine visits allow the dentist to detect any dental problems and other oral health issues that you may not have noticed. About half (48%) of those surveyed with dental insurance say that they have refused a procedure recommended by a dentist or have skipped visiting the dentist entirely for reasons of cost. When your dentist checks for cavities and gives you specific instructions to improve your oral hygiene habits, you're less likely to have cavities. Studies show that people who drink alcohol have a three times higher rate of permanent tooth loss than the national average in the United States, and tobacco use is linked to common oral diseases.

One study found that going to the dentist more than once a year did not change the size of tumors when oral cancer was diagnosed, while another found that if people waited more than a year between visits, tumors could be more advanced when detected. Nearly 1 in 4 Americans (24%) visits the dentist once a year, 31% visits twice a year, and 9% visit the dentist more than twice a year. Going to the dentist can be intimidating, but it's important for your overall health.

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