Some dentists may recommend that you and your family see them every six months for your regular check-ups and teeth cleaning, while others may suggest once a year or another figure. So what is the ideal time interval between dental visits to make sure your teeth and gums are getting the best possible care?
There is no set period for dental visits. Australia's national evidence-based recommendation is that the frequency of check-ups should reflect every individual's oral health needs, which can change over time. Your dentist will recommend the most suitable visiting frequency based on your oral health and risk factors.
Dental check-ups are an important part of your overall oral care. A comprehensive oral health assessment gives your dentist the chance to check for any signs of possible problems that may need urgent treatment before they become more severe. Your dentist may also anticipate future problems and recommend preventive treatments to help protect your teeth today.
As dental problems can sometimes develop without warning and progress rapidly, some dentists prefer six-monthly check-ups to improve the chance of problems being spotted early, when they're usually easier to treat. Reviews of studies in various countries have not conclusively proven that seeing the dentist every six months is preferable to every year, but a longer interval is likely to put oral health at risk.
If you're dealing with an ongoing problem or treatment such as orthodontics, your dentist may arrange more frequent check-ups every few weeks or months.
Most dentists offer dental hygiene treatments as part of your regular check-up. If you haven't visited your dentist for six months or longer, deposits of plaque and tartar (calculus) may have built up on your teeth, which can be safely removed by your dentist. They may also apply fluoride to your teeth to help protect them against further plaque build-up.
Modern dental x-rays use a very low level of radiation, but dentists still only recommend x-rays when strictly necessary. X-rays may be taken during your regular check-up or to help diagnose a problem or plan a treatment. If you had an x-ray recently, your dentist may not advise having one again unless the results are likely to be different. Use of x-rays is avoided when possible for pregnant women and young children.
Oral cancer can affect people of all ages. Over 900 new cases of mouth cancers are diagnosed in Australia every year, and early screening is vital for successful treatment. Some dentists offer an oral cancer screening as part of your routine check-up.
Australia's National Oral Health Plan recommends that children have their first oral health assessment by the age of two. However, your dentist may advise earlier check-ups to make sure their first teeth are coming through properly and to offer advice about how to look after their oral health. After this, you can usually arrange your child's dental visits at the same time as your own.
Is it time for your regular check-up and clean? Contact our friendly team at Swish Dental to make an appointment with our Brisbane dentists at a time that suits you.
Australian Health Policy Collaboration and the Australian Dental Association. Australia's Oral Health Tracker - Technical Paper [Online] 2018 [Accessed October 2018] Available from: https://www.ada.org.au/Dental-Professionals/Australia-s-Oral-Health-Tracker/Australia-s-Oral-Health-Tracker-Technical-Appendix/ADA_AHPC_Technical-Appendix_07032018
The National Oral Health Promotion Clearinghouse. Review of Evidence [Online] 2016 [Accessed October 2018] Available from: https://www.adelaide.edu.au/arcpoh/oral-health-promotion/resources/health-professionals/review-of-evidence/
Mark G Gussy, Stacey A Bracksley and Dr Anne-Marie Boxall. How often should you have dental visits? [Online] 2013 [Accessed October 2018] Available from: https://ahha.asn.au/sites/default/files/docs/policy-issue/20130627_deeble_institute_evidence_brief_dental_visit_frequency.pdf
Oral Health Foundation. X-rays [Online] 2018 [Accessed October 2018] Available from: https://www.dentalhealth.org/x-rays