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Why should I visit the dentist every six months?

visit six months

Regardless of our age, we can all benefit from regular dental visits advises the team from James Street Dental, Geelong. 

Maintaining dental hygiene is important for everyone.  It’s not just for your dental health, but also for your overall general wellbeing.

Your child’s first dental visit 

Young children are used to routine in their lives and it is good to introduce the routine of visiting the dentist every six months from an early age. The most important first visits to the dentist need to be a positive and rewarding experience and not associated with pain, for example a toothache. 

Children’s teeth (known as deciduous teeth) have very thin enamel and large nerves (pulps). Lack of good oral hygiene (twice-a-day brushing and flossing between the back baby molars) combined with high sugar and acid intake (from both foods and drinks) combines to increase the risk of dental decay. 

As a guide, the general recommendation is that parents brush their child’s teeth until they can ‘do up their own shoelaces’.

Teeth that may seem healthy on the “top” or biting surfaces, may in fact be suffering from decay occurring between the teeth (interproximally). Six monthly visits to the dentist, will allow the lesion (decay) to be identified and treated in a timely manner.

Teenagers and healthy teeth 

Older children and teenagers tend to have more control over their oral hygiene than younger children.  However, ‘brushing the teeth’ can be a 10 second affair with only the front teeth seeing any toothpaste!  

Six monthly visits to the dentist can identify poor brushing techniques which will lead to red and bleeding gums. It’s amazing how some children will respond to another voice apart from that of the parents advising them to brush more efficiently!

Between the age of around 10 – 13, baby teeth are replaced by adult teeth.  Sometimes the baby teeth will not fall out by themselves, resulting in the adult tooth growing in front or behind the adult tooth. Once again, identifying this earlier rather than later will allow for correction of the malalignment of the adult tooth and any other orthodontic problems can be discussed and dealt with.

Young Adults are wise to visit the dentist too!

Older teenagers and young adults between the ages of 20 - 30 can have their wisdom teeth (3rd molars) erupt. This can cause pain, difficulty in opening their mouth and cause teeth which have been orthodontically aligned to relapse.

In addition, young adults who have been used to seeing the dentist whilst living at home often drop the routine in their 20’s. Unfortunately, many only visit the dentist with a toothache in their 30’s, by which time a very large cavity has formed, either requiring a large filling or endodontic treatment (root canal) or extraction.

Regular dental visits for adults

Adults benefit from six monthly visits to identify any new carious lesions (decay spots) and to remove tartar (hardened plaque) which, if left unattended, can start to cause the gum attachment to break down. 

In some cases, the bone supporting the teeth can start to decrease. This is known as periodontal disease and is very widespread amongst the adult population.  Early identification of this disease can allow the dentist to either treat the patient or refer to a specialist periodontist. If left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to tooth loss. Studies have for many years linked periodontal disease with diabetes, cardiovascular (heart) disease and low birthweight, and new links with other diseases are being routinely discovered.

Dental care for seniors

Maintenance of a healthy, stable dentition into older age allows patients to maintain a healthy diet.  This has been shown to lead to an overall improvement in general physical and mental health according to recent studies.

Older adults taking medication or multiple medications often experience a dry mouth which can lead to an increase in decay rate. 

Patients with arthritis or other physical conditions can struggle to brush their teeth as effectively as they once used to, leading to decay or periodontal (gum) disease.  In these cases, three monthly visits may be required to help the patient maintain a healthy mouth.

As we understand the links between oral health and general health more clearly, and as we are living longer, it is important to maintain our teeth for as long as possible. Regular visits to the dentist will help to achieve this.