Dental visits are often one of the most dreaded experiences for children, and even some adults fear the dentist. While arguments for routine dental checkups far outweigh any potential arguments against, many people still want to know the mandatory minimum. How often do they have to go to the dentist to ensure a healthy smile? Unfortunately, there is no straight answer. Several factors contribute to the overall need and frequency of dental visits, not the least of which is age. Therefore, to determine how often dental visits are necessary, it is essential to separate children from adults and then to address certain extenuating circumstances that may increase the number of visits required in a year.
While many parents don’t think it’s necessary to take their toddlers to the dentist when they only have baby teeth, this is not entirely accurate. According to the American Dental Association, a child should have their first oral exam as soon as their first tooth comes in. However, regardless, they should see a dentist by their first birthday. The reasons these visits are crucial is that they help a dentist catch any issues early, before permanent teeth, and you also learn how to care for early teeth. Beyond the initial examination, the general recommendation is that your child has regular dental checkups at least once every six months, or twice a year, for prevention and correction.
Though you may think adults would have to visit the dentist less frequently than children, you’d be wrong. Adults with good oral health may coast by with one visit annually, but most dentists recommend at least two visits a year. However, for adults with poor health or dental hygiene, that number increases. There are several factors that can lead to poor gum health and the required increase in visits.
- Tobacco use
- Heart disease
Beyond regular checkups, certain situations may require a dental visit. For example, an emergency, like a chipped tooth, or a loose filling. However, there are many situations that may require an extra appointment:
- Worsening tooth or gum pain
- Red, swollen or bleeding gums
- Tooth sensitivity
- Continuous dry mouth
- Pain or clicking in the jaw
- Perpetual sores
- Failed dental restoration
While there is no definitive answer to the required number of dental visits annually, the general consensus is that you need at least two checkups a year. However, that depends on your current level of health. For more specific information, contact a local dentist.
Resource: Dental Care