How Often Should You Visit the Dentist? It All Depends
For the most part, Canadians are pretty good at going to the dentist. Prior to the beginning of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, in 2018, very nearly three-quarters of all Canadians (74.7%) saw a dental professional at least once within the last twelve-month period. Less than a quarter (22.4%) reported avoiding the dentist, citing affordability—instead of, say, procrastination—as their primary reason.
With numbers like that, it’s pretty safe to say that Canadians are doing a good job when it comes to looking after their dental and oral health. And, after all, here you are trying to figure out how many times you should be visiting your local tooth doctor every year. Perhaps you’ve heard, either from your own dentist or from an online source, that everyone should see the dentist twice a year, or every six months. But what if we told you that that rule of thumb wasn’t really a rule at all.
According to one leading toothpaste manufacturer, the “twice a year” rule originated from an advertisement for, of all things, toothpaste3. There’s about as much scientific basis to support the “twice a year” rule as there is evidence to support the existence of Bigfoot. Actually, you’re probably likelier to come across some shaky camera footage of the alleged Gigantopithecus-kin than you are to come across a study supporting the advertising hype of the twice-annual dentist’s visit.
How often one should visit their smile specialist (a.k.a. Doctor of Dental Surgery) depends on a large number of variables. Suffice to say, how many visits to the dentist one makes in a year and exactly what those visits entails varies from person to person. Let’s take a look.
Once or Twice Will Suffice
The average person can get away with seeing their dentist once or twice a year for a routine cleaning and smile tuning. But, again, it all depends. How well one maintains their dental and oral hygiene at home impacts the frequency with which they’ll have to see their dentist. If you’re someone without any complications (more on those later) who brushes twice a day, flosses regularly, and rinses their mouth then once a year could be just the right amount to keep your mouth healthy. That being said, even for the keenest brushers, flossers, and mouth washers, there are other factors at play that can impact their need to see a professional.
Take diet, for example. What we eat and drink—and even when and how we eat and drink—has a huge impact on our dental and oral hygiene. Someone with a diet that is high in acidic foods and beverages will, in all likelihood, do more damage to their teeth than someone with a more acid-balanced diet. Similarly, someone with a habit of midnight fridge raids—we can’t be the only ones—will also, over time, need to make more trips to the dentist. Even the proportion of hard to soft foods that comprise someone’s diet can affect the strength of their teeth and jaw muscles and, thusly, influence their need to consult a dentist.
Trying to find out all of the different variables that impact your dental and oral hygiene can be a daunting task. In fact, if you did do that, you might as well make it a dissertation and become a dentist yourself. Luckily, there are some common variables that will have a more direct impact on the number of times you visit the dentist.
By now, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, the term “pre-existing conditions” has coughed and sneezed its way into common parlance. But the term doesn’t apply to COVID-19 and other respiratory tract infections alone. There are pre-existing conditions—or compounding variables or complicating factors—that can vary the frequency with which you need to visit the dentist.
- Pregnant women
- People who are prone to plaque and tartar build-up
- People with braces and/or other dental aligners
- People who already have cavities
- People with gum disease
- People with compromised immune systems
These are all categories of people who will need to make more frequent visits to the dentist than they otherwise would. As you might imagine, they all have unique needs that require the care and attention of a dentist.
Ask Your Dentist Today
When it really comes down to it, there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to going to see your dentist. In fact, your frequency of trips will likely vary over your lifetime as your specific needs change. Your smile, and everything about it, is as unique as you are. If you’re trying to figure out how often you should visit your dentist, the best thing to do is to ask your dentist—they’ll know best what you need even after one visit. With all of that being said, however, we at Dawson Dental won’t ever complain about seeing you too often. Book your appointment with us today…and tomorrow. And the next day and the day after that if you so choose.