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Why Regular Dental Visits Are Important

Many of us believe that we need to visit our dentist at least every 6 months, even if that’s not what we actually do. If those two-yearly check-ups are actually necessary is however, the subject of debate. It’s difficult to determine which source the figure of six months was derived from. It is believed to date in the early 18th Century far before the introduction trial randomised control to evaluate its effectiveness.

Patients who have a lot of issues with their teeth have to see a dentist regularly. But what about the rest of us? They are also more susceptible to decay shortly after they’ve been in place, so the moment children are just beginning to grow the first set of permanent teeth between the age of six to eight, they should have regular examinations. As teens age, teeth are less prone to decay until the wisdom teeth begin to appear at the age of 20. Therefore, the risk is different over different periods of time.

In 2000, three-quarters (73%) of dentists within New York were recommending six monthly examinations, despite absence of studies that looked into whether frequency of visits had any effect for patients with a low risk of developing tooth decay or gum disease. Many organizations today like that of American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry continue to recommend six check-ups every month.

However, for a number of decades, people have been saying that the decision to choose 6 months for the best time between visits is arbitrarily. In 1977 Aubrey Sheiham, a professor of public health dentistry from University College London, published an article published in The Lancet bemoaning the lack of evidence supporting six-month exams. Nearly 40 years later He’s still making the same argument.

In 2003, a systematic review was conducted to examine what research had been conducted. Its results varied. Certain studies showed no distinction in the amount of teeth that were decayed filled with fillings, missing teeth or even missing teeth for patients who visited regularly to the dentist versus those who did not, while some studies showed less fillings for those who visited the dentist frequently. In the case of gums, most studies found no differences in the amount of bleeding, plaque , or gingivitis that occurs in permanent teeth. One study revealed that seeing a dentist more often than once per year had no effect on the size of the tumors when diagnosis of oral cancer and another study showed that when patients waited longer than an entire year between visits tumors could be more advanced by the time they were detected.

The previous year, this year, the Cochrane Collaboration performed a similar thorough review of the research, and were dissatisfied with the results. The quality and amount of research insufficient to support or disprove the concept of six-monthly dental check-ups. They only found one study in which patients were randomly assigned to visit the dentist either each year or twice a year. Patients who visited annually fared better, however it is possible that the staff at the dentist was aware of whether patients were part of the two-yearly or annual group, which may affect the care they received and affected the outcomes.

We also have other things to keep in mind. If a research study concludes for instance that children who visit the dentist often have less fillings, there could be other reasons behind it. The same children may also possess other advantages, for instance, they might be in the upper end of the socioeconomic ladder or eat healthier and use better dental equipment.

There’s another reason of visiting the dentist. If the dental professional does not find any problems the dentist will remind you to continue maintaining your teeth and to clean your teeth properly. However, there isn’t a consensus on the best method to do this.

What is the best time to visit your dentist? Organisations such as Nice that provide instructions on members of the National Health Service in England and Wales states they recommend that frequency for visits to the dentist will vary based on the person. They suggest that children see a dentist every year at least once since their teeth are susceptible to get worse, while adults who are healthy can stay for as long as two years. They go as further as to suggest that a period of more than two years is fine for people who have demonstrated dedication to taking care of their gums and teeth. Similar recommendations are given elsewhere. A group of experts who reviewed the data from Finland in 2001 suggested that children under 18 who are not at risk of developing cancer should be examined between 18 months and 2 years.

What does this mean for us next time we get a note from the door telling us when of our next dental appointment due? We’d all love an excuse to visit less frequently but the good thing is that if your suffer from any health issues, you could likely wait for a bit more than six months before your next visit. However, the length of time you’ll have to wait prior to your visit to the dentist’s chair is contingent on the assessment that you and your dentist perform of your own risk.