Two dentists tell it to you straight.
By Zahra Barnes
Q: My dentist told me I should come in for teeth cleanings twice a year, but I’ll be honest: I feel like going even once every 12 months deserves a gold star. How bad is it for my health to avoid dentist appointments?
We definitely feel your pain (or your urge to avoid pain and skip your appointments, rather). Going to the dentist can be anxiety-inducing or even just hard to fit into your schedule if you’re not having an emergency. To get to the root of this one, we chatted with Maria Lopez Howell, D.D.S., an American Dental Association spokesperson, and Vera Tang, D.D.S., New York City-based dentist. Here’s what they have to say.
Consider one dentist appointment a year your absolute minimum. But you might need to go more frequently depending on your oral health.
How often you should go to the dentist depends on your teeth, gums, and how well you maintain good oral hygiene on your own. “As the American Dental Association points out, there is no one-size-fits-all regimen for anyone,” Dr. Lopez Howell says.
The ultimate goal is to see you often enough to ward off any mouth problems, Dr. Lopez Howell explains.
Issues like tooth decay (cavities) and periodontitis (gum disease) can both lead to pain and tooth loss, and they’re very much avoidable. Seeing a dentist regularly can help prevent them altogether or, at the very least, stop them in their tracks. Getting into that chair at least once a year is key.
“I understand that life gets busy, so if you’re on the healthier side, once a year is fine,” Dr. Tang says. “Going twice a year would be on the safe side—any minor changes can be caught early and more easily remedied than if you wait the full year.”