You have likely heard that you should get a dental cleaning every six months, but is that true? While it is for some, others need more frequent cleanings, while some can space the cleaning out a bit more. Get the details to find out how often you need to visit your local dentist.
How often is a dental cleaning needed?
Dental patients are placed into groups. Patients are at high-risk, average-risk or low-risk. The number of cleanings required depends on the patient’s risk group.
Some patients are at a high risk of developing gum disease and cavities. People in this group should get dental cleanings every three to four months to reduce the risk. During the cleanings, the hygienist will scrape away plaque and tartar, and the dentist will check X-rays and examine the teeth to check for signs of gum disease and other issues.
The high-risk group includes:
- People who have gum disease
- Patients with weak immune systems due to stress or health issues
- Pregnant women
- Patients who are prone to cavities
Risk levels can change over the course of a lifetime. The dentist will continue to evaluate high-risk patients to determine if they are still at risk. If the risk goes down, the dentist will likely reduce the number of cleanings per year.
Some patients do not have many or any risk factors, but do not follow an oral hygiene routine at home. Instead of brushing twice a day, the patients might brush once a day and floss occasionally.
While it is recommended that these patients improve their oral hygiene routines, people should schedule dental cleanings every six months as well. The hygienist needs to remove the plaque and tartar before it turns into tooth decay, and the dentist needs to check for signs of periodontal disease. By going to the dentist every six months, the patient will reduce the risk of both.
Low-risk patients can get away with only seeing the dentist once a year, as long as a problem does not arise between appointments. Low-risk patients do not have any of the risk factors and maintain an oral hygiene routine at home.
This includes brushing twice a day for two minutes each time. Patients should also floss every day and have a clean bill of health.
Check insurance coverage
Patients should also check their dental coverage to determine a cleaning schedule. Many dental insurance policies cover two cleanings a year. In that case, the patient should make use of the free cleaning, even those who are not at high risk for periodontal disease or cavities.
Follow a dental cleaning routine
If you have a high risk of developing tooth decay or gum disease, get a dental cleaning every three to four months. If you are at average risk, schedule appointments every six months, and if you are at a low-risk, you can get your teeth cleaned once a year. However, if you notice any issues in between cleanings, contact the dentist immediately.
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