Monday, June 1, 2015

How Often Should You Visit the Dentist?

Life is an awesome journey, and our teeth want to be with us each step of the way. From birth to old age, a good relationship with our dentist is a crucial component to keeping our choppers healthy and happy. Our dental health needs change through the decades, so it might not always be clear just how often we should be seeing the dentist as the years go by. Here’s some advice for having a healthy relationship with your dentist during each decade of your life.

Birth to 10 years – Babies should meet their dentist for the first time when that first tooth appears, or at least by their first birthday. Although we eventually lose our baby teeth, they form the path our permanent teeth will follow, so it’s important to check throughout a child’s early years that teeth are growing as they should. Most dentists recommend young children see them at least twice a year, and some may even recommend more frequent visits in order to build up a child’s comfort and confidence. If your child complains of a toothache, you should see the dentist as soon as possible. 

Ten to 20 years – Did you know that dental decay is the most common chronic disease in kids from 5 to 17 years of age? This is just one of the reasons this decade is one of the most critical for having a steady relationship with your dentist. Pre-teens and teens often overindulge in sugary drinks and snacks, and with their growing independence they may not always brush and floss like they’ve been taught. Sports can take a toll on kids’ teeth during these years. This is also prime-time for the emergence of wisdom teeth. Visit your dentist every six months, or more often if trouble arises. 

Twenty to 30 years – During the childbearing years it’s especially important to have a regular, ongoing relationship with your dentist. In pregnancy, many women notice swelling and bleeding of their gums (pregnancy gingivitis), and a condition known as maternal periodontal disease can be associated with preterm birth and other complications. In addition, adults in this decade of their lives are often juggling new financial priorities and health care visits can take a back seat to other concerns. Make the commitment to see your dentist at least every six months; it’s an investment that will pay life-long dividends.

Thirty to 40 years – This can be one of the most uneventful decades in a person’s life from an oral health perspective, but that’s no reason to take a break from your regular dental visits. As long as you are eating healthy, not indulging in too many sugary drinks and practicing good oral health habits at home, you can get by with bi-annual visits.

Forty and beyond – As we age, some medical conditions can have an impact on our oral health. For instance, medications used to control high blood pressure and other diseases can cause dry mouth, which may make us prone to the damage bacteria causes our teeth and gums. Arthritis or other health issues may make it more difficult to brush and floss as well as we should. Tartar build-up in our later years can lead to irreversible bone loss around our teeth. That’s why it’s important that we keep a regular relationship with our dental professionals in mid-life and beyond. Even if you have full dentures, it’s still recommended you visit the dentist at least once a year for an oral exam.

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