Taking good care of your teeth is extremely important, but dental hygiene often gets put on the back-burner for a busy family. Attending regular dental appointments helps make sure you catch problems before they begin. However, there is debate about exactly what constitutes ‘regular’, and factors such as age will influence how many appointments you will need. Take a look at our rough guidelines to help you make an informed choice about who should visit the dentist and when.
The little ones
Getting your children used to the dentist early is essential; having the advice of a professional will help them develop good teeth care habits, and remove any fear from the experience. New and growing permanent teeth are the most vulnerable to decay, so children around the ages of 6-8 – when baby teeth pop out to be replaced by adult teeth – will certainly need at least yearly check ups, if not more frequently. Equally, young adults in their twenties will be sprouting wisdom teeth, another process that needs to be kept a close eye on.
Like much of the human body, teeth are governed by genetic as well as environmental influences. Therefore, if family members have had issues with their teeth, there is the potential for you to develop similar problems. Of course, keeping your teeth clean and flossing regularly can help fight any predisposition you are born with. Nonetheless, teeth problems in the family are often a sign that you ought to see a dentist more often, if only to treat problems before they escalate.
High risk groups
Although dental care naturally varies between people, some are at higher risk of complications and therefore need more regular checks. Again, some of this is environmental: smokers are more likely to experience problems including stained teeth and plaque and tartar build up. Additionally, take note of other physiological issues and the advice of other health professionals. Conditions such as diabetes or a weak immune system may affect your dental health, and treatments such as chemotherapy also leave teeth vulnerable.
So how often should I go?
The National Institute for Health Care and Excellence recommend that a normal healthy adult leave no longer than a two-year interval between check ups, but stress that it depends on the individual. Preventative measures are most important. If you wait until there is a problem you miss opportunities for early intervention, leading to high costs and unnecessary pain. Do not suffer sensitivity or bleeding gums without investigation, and encourage honest discussion about this within the family. Remember, dentistry is a field which also considers your general gum and mouth health, so just because your teeth are not falling out does not mean you should miss appointments!
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