How often should YOU see the dentist?

How often should YOU see the dentist?

For decades, most dental offices have recommended a six-month dental hygiene recall visit with your dental hygienist.  But did you know how this time interval came about?  It was actually the brain child of a marketing guy up in some corner office of a toothpaste company that came up with a jingle something like this “to keep that pearly white smile, see your dentist twice a year and brush with (our toothpaste) twice a day!” However, the six-month cleaning appointment has no scientific basis and is far longer than optimally healthy for many adult patients!

Why is this the case?  Recent research has helped us to understand the link between gum disease and many other systemic diseases. There is a bit of chicken-and-the-egg conundrum when it comes to overall health and dental health.  In patients with many chronic diseases, the ability of the body to heal and prevent infections is reduced…and at the same time, when there is chronic infection in the mouth, this bacteria is breathed in, swallowed, and can flow through the bloodstream, potentially worsening the chances of having a systenic disease!

So…who is most at risk? It’s a long list, I’m afraid, but one you should read now to to see if you might benefit from a more regular visit with your dental hygienist leading to better oral hygiene.

25 Patients Who Should Have Their Teeth Cleaned More Often!

1) Patients with Periodontal (Gum) Disease: this is a chronic condition, like diabetes.  There is treatment for diabetes (medication, diet, weight loss), but once a diabetic, always a diabetic.  The same can be said for gum disease…it’s a disease to be managed on a routine basis to keep it under control.

2) Diabetic Patients: Diabetes patients know they are more likely to get all types of infections, and once they get an infection, it is harder to get rid of it. You know that once you have an infection, it becomes harder to control your blood sugar than when you are healthy.  Also, diabetics have poor circulation in their extremities (fingers, toes, gums…) which increases the chances of developing infections in these areas.

3) Heart Patients: again, poor circulation makes it more difficult to clear infections, and infections in the gums can be carried in the blood and damage the heart

4) Stroke Patients: Studies have shown that in the presence of gum disease, you may double your risk of stroke.

5) Arthritis Patients: due to limited use of hands, it may be more difficult to do a thorough job clean the mouth properly, care more often by a professional can help keep things healthy.

6) Pregnant Patients: Pregnancy gingivitis is a low-grade infection that can develop due to hormonal changes in the body.  This infections can be carried through the blood vessel membranes and into the placenta.  There is also evidence of low birth-weight babies in mothers with gum disease.

7) Immunosuppressed Patients: AIDS, Rheumatoid Arthritis, patients in treatment for cancer are but a few

8) Orthodontic Patients: If you’ve had braces, you know how hard it is to keep things clean.  Get some extra help from your dental hygienist.

9) Prosthetic Reconstruction: Patients having had major dental work with fillings, crowns, dental implants…all of this needs regular maintenance to protect your investment

10) Patients NEEDING Prosthetic Reconstruction: Old fillings that don’t fit the teeth so well anymore can hold onto bacteria-filled plaque and calculus

11) Smokers

12) Patients Using Chewing Tobacco: while frequent cleanings won’t help prevent the effects of cancer from 11 and 12, those visits can lead to early detection of cancer lesions which could save a life.

13) Any patient who develops rapid, heavy stain on the teeth:  this is a sign of higher-than-average levels of bacteria in the mouth, which clearly requires more frequent cleanings

14) Patients with overgrowth of gum tissue due to medications: like Dilantin for seizures

15) Patients with dry mouth (including when due to medications): Lower salivary flow increases the chances of gum infection or systemic infection because the body cannot clean the gum areas around the teeth.  Also, people with dry mouth are more likely to get root decay, which is often the beginning of the end of the tooth.

16) Chemotherapy/radiation patients: This should be scheduled closely with oncologist, and the reasons are the same as for immunocompromised patients and patients with dry mouth

17) High numbers of cavities and Poor Oral Hygiene

18) Bulimic Patients and Patients With Acid Reflux: The acids in the mouth break down fillings faster that the average, teeth can bcome quite worn down, and when the whole mouth is acidic it is again harder to prevent cavities and gum disease

19) Patients concerned about Halitosis (Bad Breath): if you often suffer from bad breath, there’s a reason and it’s name is BACTERIA.  Let us help you find the cause and treat you more often.

20) Kids who don’t brush well and have lots of plaque on their teeth

21) Patients who don’t floss (yes, that probably means you…): If you don’t have best-chance oral hygiene all the time, YOU are more susceptible to dental problems somewhere down the road

22) Patients with partial dentures: These teeth were lost for a reason, either gum disease or cavities.  It’s important to keep a close watch to protect the remaining teeth.

23) Patients under significant stress due to work, family, or other issues: The more stress, the less able for the body to fight off infections.

24) Asthma patients: Medications used for asthma can make the mouth very dry

25) Alzheimer’s Patients (or anyone with a family history of Alzheimer’s. You can check out this link http://www.eurekalert.orh/pub_releases/2010-08/nyu-nef080310.php

Dr. Andrea Stevens is a cosmetic and family dentist in practice in Kanata, Ontario. If you have dental questions, you can call her at 613-271-7091 or visit her at Please also feel free to leave comments or questions below, and Dr. Stevens will be happy to answer!