How often is too often?

By Celia Burns on 25th September 2016

Following on from last month’s newpaper articles telling us to stop flossing, (see my blog for why they said that) we have been reading recently in the papers that patients should not assume that they need to attend for a dental health check every six months.

I am sure that most people would be all too happy not to have to see the dentist as frequently – the anxiety, the fees, having to take time off work; these are things we would love to have a good reason to avoid.

So here is your guide as to how we decide how often to see you. We follow the guidance given out by the various royal colleges and dental health foundations, and we advise based on various risk factors.

If you don’t drink or smoke, if you have minimal if any fillings, and gums that do not bleed when you brush, if your diet is not acidic or sugary, and you don’t grind or clench your teeth in your sleep, then you are likely to be able to reduce your healthy mouth check ups to once a year.

However there are certain things that mean we should see you more frequently for examination. These include

  • if you have restored teeth where the fillings and crowns are close to the gums
  • if you have recently had treatment, especially more complex work like bridges or root fillings
  • if you have active gum disease, or have had bone loss from gum disease in the past
  • if you smoke
  • if you have a dry mouth
  • if you have heart problems, diabetes, or have had a stroke
  • if you clench or grind your teeth
  • if you have implants or partial dentures

It is also important to see you more often if you have a problem we are monitoring rather than actively treating. And of course, everybody needs to come at least once a year so that we can do your mouth cancer screening. Mouth cancer is on the rise, but is a cancer that is treatable and curable in most cases when caught early. Even those with full dentures should be checked out annually, according to Cancer Research UK.

Many dental problems are undetectable until they are bad enough to cause tooth loss, and many more are completely painless, so the only way to be sure you aren’t storing up problems for the future is to discuss with us the best recall interval for you. Ask us at your next healthy mouth check.

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About the Author

Celia Burns - Principal Dentist & Clinical Director

My first love isn’t teeth; it’s people. That’s why I love being a dentist. It’s the best feeling in the world to be able to help an anxious patient, who has possibly avoided going to the dentist for many years, build their trust in me, and I get a real thrill from helping someone achieve the confidence in their smile that they want.

Six Month Smiles BACD - British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry British Dental Association The Oral Health Foundation GDC