How Often Should You Go to the Dentist?

woman getting dental work done at a dental office

The dentist’s office probably doesn’t make your top list of places you want to visit, but it’s important you do. It not only benefits your dental health; it’s good for your overall health too. But how often should you go to the dentist for a regular dental cleaning? Do you really need to go to the dentist every 6 months?  The answers largely depend on if your teeth and gums are in good condition.

Main Factors

If You Have Healthy Gums

You only need to see the dentist once every six months for a regular teeth cleaning and checkup if you have healthy gums.

Brushing with the right type of toothbrush, brushing properly, flossing properly is vital for optimal dental health.  However, they can’t achieve everything. A professional cleaning helps remove plaque more effectively, and it’s the only procedure that can remove tartar.

A checkup is an opportunity to see if you have any dental or oral concerns, from cavities to periodontal disease to oral cancer. A checkup can also detect signs of other illnesses, such as diabetes, which sometimes appear in the mouth first.


If You Have Periodontal Disease

You should see the dentist for a cleaning every three to four months if you have periodontal disease, also known as gum disease.  For periodontal disease, we recommend a deep cleaning known as scaling and root planing (SRP). Unlike a regular dental cleaning, SRP focuses more on your roots and gums. It also reduces infection and inflammation and promotes healing.

Should I Visit the Dentist More Often If I’m at Risk for Periodontal Disease?

Some dental professionals believe that you should see the dentist more often if you’re at risk for periodontal disease, but we disagree. A routine dental cleaning is plenty effective to help maintain healthy teeth and gums, and our opinion is that a deep cleaning won’t provide any added benefit if you don’t have the infection. But routine dental care will help us detect any changes that may suggest the onset of periodontal disease, and we can take proactive measures.

 Am I at Risk for Periodontal Disease? 

Your overall health and lifestyle — and some things outside of your control — play a significant role in determining your risk for periodontal disease. Some of the more common factors include:

  • Pregnancy
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Weakened immune system
  • Age (older people are at higher risk)
  • Plaque
  • Tartar

Plaque and tartar may not seem as alarming as diabetes and a weakened immune system do, but you shouldn’t underestimate their risk. Plaque can cause gingivitis, which is the mildest form of periodontal disease and can worsen if left untreated. Tartar can directly cause periodontal disease.

Should I See My Dentist in Addition to Routine Dental Cleaning?

There are other times in your life when visiting the dentist may be unavoidable — or strongly advisable. You should see us if you’re experiencing any of the following:

  • Tooth pain
  • Bleeding gums
  • Swollen gums
  • Spots or sores on gums
  • Mouth sensitivity to hot or cold liquids/foods
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Jaw pain
  • Uneven bite
  • Dry mouth

Some of these symptoms could indicate problems related specifically to your dental health or they may point to an underlying medical condition. That’s why it’s important to be proactive if you notice anything out of the ordinary.

You’ll also want to let your dentist know if you’re experiencing any problems with dental fillings, crowns, implants, or dentures, such as cracks or looseness.

How Does Visiting a Dentist Benefit My Overall Health?

You might not realize it, but your mouth serves as a gateway — good and bad — to the rest of your body. The reason for this is mainly due to the bacteria in your mouth and its ability to travel elsewhere. Good oral health and your body’s natural defenses are usually enough to keep that bacteria at a minimum. Still, certain factors can increase it, such as some medications and illnesses. If those bacteria levels rise, they put the rest of your body at risk for various problems.  For example, studies have shown there is a link between periodontal disease and Alzheimer’s.  Other potential issues are:

  • Cardiovascular ailments, including heart disease and stroke
  • Respiratory illnesses
  • Diabetes
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

That’s why we can’t stress enough the importance of scheduling a regular dental cleaning and checkup every six months. It’s a routine visit but also the best preventative care for your dental and general health.

Should I Go to the Dentist Soon?

Hopefully this article helps you answer the question of how often you should go to the dentist. Of course if you’re overdue for a routine dental cleaning and checkup — especially if you have periodontal disease ­­— then yes you should see the dentist soon!