Here we go again. I am annoyed about something that is waiting to burst out. I have written about integrity of the dentists in one of my previous posts and today I am going to touch the same subject.
This post is about dentist check-up frequency patients should have.
Many dental practices very commonly advise people on their websites and in the surgeries to see dentist every three to six months and they justify this by prevention of bigger dental problems.
Recommending the same check-up interval to all the patients is not up to the standards of modern dentistry. It is merely (once again) about maximising the profit of the practice.
Check-up intervals should be decided after carefully evaluating the current status of the oral health, general health and oral hygiene routines. I will list the guidelines that are practiced in one of the leading countries.
24 to 36 Months Interval in Check-Ups
This concerns the patients who have
- no treatment requiring decay
- no early decay that needs to be stopped or reversed
- not had any decay for many years
It is important to check the patient’s eating habits to make sure that they are not harmful to the teeth and encourage patient to change them if needed.
6 to 12 Months Interval in Check-Ups
This concerns the patients who have
- one or more early decay or advanced decay
It is important to make a plan together with a patient to stop the decaying. This might include visits to the hygienist.
Certain groups of people might need to see dentist more often than advised above. These are:
- children and youngsters
- people with illnesses and medications that reduce saliva flow
- users of intoxicants
- immigrants of certain countries
- people with dental phobia
- people with big life events (pregnancy, divorce, military service, retirement)
- people of low education
- people with illnesses or injuries that cause disability that prevent good oral hygiene
- people with harmful eating habits and/or poor oral hygiene
- people who use fluoride toothpaste less than twice a day
- mouth breathers
- people who are undergoing orthodontic treatment
- people with dentures
- people with erosion on teeth
- patients who have had teeth extracted/root canal treated due to decay in the past 3 years
Managing Gum Disease
3 to 12 Months Intervals in Maintenance Visits
After a comprehensive therapy for the gum disease the patient needs to see periodontist/hygienist regularly for the maintenance visits. The interval of the maintenance visits is based on many risk factors like
- severity of the bone loss
- smoking status
- overall health (diabetes)
- age related (medications, illnesses)
- gender (male)
- low socioeconomic status
- poor oral hygiene
- condition of the teeth (restorations – especially subgingival crown margins, removable dentures)
- anatomic abnormalities
- residual pockets
The more advanced gums disease the shorter the maintenance interval. The more risk factors the shorter maintenance interval.
To recommend all the patients the same 3-monthly check ups is simply madness and it stinks of foul play.
please be advised that you most definitely do not need to see a dentist every three months unless you fall into one of those risk factor categories above. But even in these cases a top-notch oral hygiene habits can make wonders and extend the check-up interval from three months to six.
Also if you do want to see a dentist every three months there is no harm done. Apart from you needing to pay unnecessarily for a treatment you don’t need.
Dental Revelations Blog
Times change. So does the dentistry. Sticking to the old ways – “it has always been done like this” – is simply not what modern dental practice should do.
More on the subject click the links below.
NICE – National Institute for Health and Care Excellence
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