Even if you follow all advise to the letter, it’s a good idea to see a dentist for regular examinations. The dentist can advise you on any areas you are missing or should focus on with your cleaning. They can also spot any possible problems before it becomes a bigger issue.
I believe that everyone under 21 years old should see the dentist every 6 months at least. Children’s mouths change very quickly and new teeth can take a while to fully harden. These young teeth are at increased risk of decay and need to be closely monitored.
The reason I say under 21 years old rather than 16 or 18 is because lots of young people will leave home between the ages of 16 and 21 years old. Leaving home is a difficult process because you are looking after yourself for the first time. You need to wash your pants, cook your own food and do all those things you used to take for granted. It’s tricky and you may look for shortcuts to make it easier.
It’s not easy to recreate that home-cooked food from Mum or Dad and you may turn to the junk, processed foods. These can be packed with sugars and can have a real impact on your teeth. The other thing that may happen is you may start to forget caring for your teeth. This can happen, especially if you are coming home late from discotheque (that’s where the youth hang out, right?) and the last thing you’re interested in is brushing your teeth. When your habits habits and lifestyle change, you are at risk of causing problems with your teeth. It is important that during this time, you don’t do damage that you are stuck with for the rest of your life.
As an adult, I can’t tell you how regularly you should attend the dentist. If you are susceptible to gum disease, it may be every 3 months. If you have no teeth and just require an oral cancer screening, it may be only every 12 or 18 months. Most of us will be 6 months. Your dentist is the best person to advise you.
Most people will also benefit from a professional clean as well as an examination. A professional clean can be carried out by a dentist or hygienist and involves the removal of tartar. Tartar (or ‘calculus’ to give it its proper name) is plaque that has hardened. Basically, the bugs in your plaque have grabbed a load of the salts and minerals from your saliva and they’ve walled themselves off to protect themselves from the dreaded toothbrush. Once they’ve walled themselves off, you won’t be able to get them off with brushing alone.
A dentist or hygienist has specialised kit to take off these build ups. Removing them allows your gums to stay happy and healthy and allows you to get back into those tricky spots to clean. Again, I can’t advise you on how regularly you should have a professional clean. That is something you need to discuss with your dentist or hygienist.
In summary, whoever you are and however old you are, you should be seeing a dentist for regular checks. Examinations will highlight issues that you weren’t aware of. If you can catch problems early, it makes life simpler for everyone.
If you would like to know the evidence behind dental checks, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guideline can be viewed here.