Question: Why does the dentist want me to go there every six months to get my teeth cleaned? I don’t think that’s necessary.

Answer: Historically dentists have recommended a cleaning appointment usually with a dental hygienist every six months. This is usually accompanied by an examination with the dentist. X rays are taken every year on average to detect cavities between the teeth and to check bone levels.

That being said, there is no reason why an individual’s plan for keeping their teeth healthy can’t be customized to meet their specific needs. In my practice I have a plan for each patient. Some follow the above regimen and it seems to work very well to keep their teeth healthy. Other people need more or less. When you have periodontal disease you need to keep it under control so those patients may come every three months for a maintenance appointment with the hygienist. This seems to be the right amount of time between visits to keep the disease process under control. I have other patients that only come once a year to get their teeth cleaned and have x-rays every couple of years, but these patients have beautiful teeth, no cavities or periodontal issues.

If you want to make sure you have a plan that works for you, talk to your dentist. Maybe there is a reason you need to be seen every six months and once it is explained it will make sense to you. I am a firm believer it being your own health advocate and being able to make informed decisions.

If you want to see the dentist less, here are some tips! First, have a meticulous oral hygiene regimen. We recommend brushing at least twice a day and flossing at least once a day. Using an antiseptic mouth rinse like Listerine is also helpful. Do you do that everyday?

Secondly, watch your diet. Snacking on sugary drinks and foods without brushing afterwards is a great way to get cavities. Good snacks for your teeth are cheese (which contains an enzyme that helps control decay), water, or veggies.

Lastly, nip small problems in the bud before they become big problems. Don’t put off regular checkups, because that is the way we can detect problems like cavities when they are small and easy to treat. Putting things off just makes problems bigger, more expensive to fix and involve more time and discomfort.

Have an honest conversation with your dentist and dental hygienist about what they see and how best to keep your teeth in good shape so you can keep smiling.

Deborah Petronio D.D.S.

Aurora Dental Care