If you read our other article about genetics and tooth decay, you learned that not all mouths are created equal. So, how often do you really need to get your teeth cleaned? The question should really be, how often do you really need to get your teeth cleaned. Keep reading to see what is best for you.
The Quick Answer
The general recommendation is that you should see your dentist twice a year. However, if one of the following applies to you, you may consider visiting your dentist more often.
The Good Answer
Do You Have Signs of Gum Disease?
This is the most important. Gum disease is what can really hurt you in the long run. Signs of gum disease include:
- Bad breath
- Red, swollen, tender, or bleeding gums
- Sensitive or loose teeth
- It hurts to chew
- Gums are receding
Different levels of gum disease
- Warning sign: If your teeth do not feel smooth even after brushing them well, this is a warning sign that you probably have tartar (the very beginnings of gum disease) building up on your teeth.
- Precursor: Bacteria begins to grow in your gums and they become red, swollen, and painful. This condition, called gingivitis, is more serious, but can usually be reversed by proactive brushing and flossing.
- Full Blown Gum Disease: Excessive bacteria causes the gums to pull away from the teeth, creating little pockets of bacteria. The body sends bacteria-fighting enzymes, but as they break down the bacteria, they also break down your teeth and gums. This can cause serious damage to your teeth and they may have to be removed.
Are You Female?
Women and girls may have more sensitive gums during hormonal changes (i.e. puberty, pregnancy, menopause). This means that they are more likely to get bacteria caught in their gums.
Do You Have Diabetes?
In general, people with diabetes are more susceptible to infection. They are not exempt from gum infection.
Are You Taking Medication Regularly?
Many medications influence how much saliva you produce. Saliva protects your teeth, so if you are producing less than normal because of your medication, you are more likely to get gum disease.
Do You Smoke?
Smoking is one of the most significant risk factors for gum disease. Using tobacco can also keep dental treatments from working properly.
Do You Like Soda?
Drinking soda is the #2 risk factor for gum disease (smoking is #1). Sugary, carbonated liquid has a way of getting into all the crevasses and pockets in your teeth and gums and fostering
What About Your Family Tree?
It stinks, but some people are just more prone to develop gum disease than others, no matter how well they take care of their teeth.
Do You Brush?
If you do not brush or floss thoroughly and frequently, you need to let your dentist do it for you by visiting him/her often.
If you experience any of the above to an extreme degree, make an appointment with your dentist now. If you experience them slightly, visit your dentist soon. If you experience none of the above, you can stick with the twice-a-year rule.