Dental Checkup

How often should I go to the dentist?

The standard recommendation is to visit your dentist twice a year for check-ups and cleanings. This frequency level works well for most people, although some people with Periodontal (gum) disease or a weakened immune system might need to visit the dentist more frequently for optimal care. The same applies for people with genetic predispositions for plaque build-up and/or cavities.

Also, keep in mind that certain life events, particularly those that cause stress or illness, may cause changes in the mouth or the development of an infection. This might make more frequent visits to the dentist necessary. At the other extreme, people who have taken great care of their teeth and gums, and have gone years without any problems whatsoever might choose to lengthen the time between visits. Ask your dentist or your hygienist what visitation schedule works best for your state of dental health.

The four biggest reasons that most strongly support the twice-yearly visitation schedule are:

  • So that your dentist or hygienist can check for problems that you might not see or feel
  • To allow your dentist to find early signs of decay (decay doesn’t become visible or cause pain until it reaches more advanced stages.)
  • To allow early detection of periodontal (gum) disease (early diagnosis and treatment significantly increase the success of periodontal therapy)
  • To treat any other oral health problems found (generally, the earlier a problem is found, the more manageable it is).

What happens at the typical check-up appointment?

The following oral health care activities usually take place at the typical recare dental check-up visit:

Professionals who will treat you — Two oral health care professionals – your dentist and your dental hygienist – will likely see you. The hygienist will conduct an initial oral exam of your gums and teeth, document any changes in your overall health and medications, clean and polish your teeth, talk to you about caring for your teeth and gums, and answer any questions you might have about home care products. Yearly Dr. Schick will also conduct an oral exam of your mouth (for signs of oral cancer or other diseases), gums, and teeth, diagnose any oral health problems and make treatment recommendations. With children under the age of 18, Dr. Schick does an exam at each check-up.

Cleaning — Although home-based tooth brushing and flossing help remove plaque, only a professional cleaning – provided by your dental hygienist – can thoroughly clean your teeth and remove the hardened plaque (called calculus or tartar) that builds up on teeth. Our hygienists use a series of metal hand instruments and ultrasonic scalers when indicated, to clean your teeth, which provide cleaning above and below the gum line.  Teflon coated instruments are used to clean dental implants to prevent scratching them.

Polishing — After your teeth have been cleaned, they are polished to remove plaque and stains on the tooth surface. The polish contains an abrasive substance and fluoride, and is applied using a small rotating rubber cup or brush attached to the dental handpiece.

Prevention — Your hygienist might offer additional instructions for you to follow at home, based on the results of your exam. Don’t hesitate to ask your hygienist for instructions about brushing or flossing, or general care questions about your teeth and gums.

X-rays — Dr. Schick will consider your clinical examination, dental history, and risk for developing cavities in determining the frequency for x-rays, normally taken on a yearly basis.