What Are You Waiting For?

Dental Cleanings & Checkups…How Often?

Many times we have heard patients say that they prefer to ‘wait until something hurts or bothers them’ rather than scheduling regular cleaning and checkup visits. This is just wrong! Aside from the importance of catching dental disease before it causes infection or tooth loss, your mouth is an early warning system for health problems in the rest of the body. Sacrificing your teeth by seeing how far you can space out your visits until ‘something goes wrong’ is not the way to save money or prevent health problems. For example, periodontal disease is not just about your teeth – it is also associated with cardiovascular disease and healthy pregnancy. And one of the biggest prods we can give our patients is oral cancer. Most general MD’s don’t find oral cancer…Dr. Still looks in mouths all day long and has a handle on what is normal and what needs to be biopsied.

Then there’s the question about how often you should have cleanings and dental checkups. This is a question that has many variables and the answer should be based on the oral health as well as general health each individual patient. Our demographic is mostly patients 40 or older and with this age group, we see a lot of periodontal disease and general health issues that affect oral health, and for those reasons, most of our patients see us every three or four months even if their dental insurance only covers twice per year. Everyone has different needs, and an honest dentist like Dr. Still is the best person to help you determine what your needs are. Simply put, periodontal disease is the loss of bone and healthy tissue around teeth. Almost half of adults age 30 and older, about 65 million, have a form of chronic inflammatory gum disease that can ultimately lead to tooth loss. There is no cure for periodontal disease, but it can be managed and for those patients, a three month schedule is highly recommended.

There are many other factors that can impact oral health and the recommended frequency of dental cleanings and exams:

  • Side effects from medication / Dry Mouth – this can cause a huge change in the chemistry of the mouth which can lead to rampant decay.
  • Level of homecare by the patient – With patients who are prone to periodontal disease, plaque which gets left behind even by the most dutiful brushing and flossing, calcifies quickly into tartar.If a patient is not brushing correctly and flossing daily, whether due to being in a hurry while brushing and flossing or the inability to care for themselves, we recommend frequent cleanings and examinations to try to help maintain a healthier mouth.
  • Genetics – this is something we have no control over, but with the awareness that dental disease caused tooth loss in a family member, there is a need to be much more attentive to regular dental cleanings and exams.
  • Diet – a diet high in carbohydrates or acid can be a huge factor in the rate of decay.

Following your cleanings with our hygienists, Dr. Still does a periodic exam every six months and in addition to checking your teeth and gums, he always does an oral cancer exam, checks your tempromandibular (TMJ) joints & salivary glands. If you are on a three month schedule and wish to be examined by him every time, he is glad to do that. So…what are you waiting for?