Most people have been admonished since childhood to regularly brush and floss their teeth. The American Dental Association suggests brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing between the teeth at least once a day. The idea is to keep food particles away from the teeth and gums that can lead to tooth decay and periodontal disease. These conditions can lead in turn to painful sessions at the dentist with drilling and other surgery and the installation of expensive fillings and crowns. One should use a stiff bristle brush, replacing it every three or so months, and a fluoride-based toothpaste.
The ADA also advises people to visit the dentist regularly for examinations and teeth cleaning using equipment in the hands of a dental hygienist. The question arises, how often should people go to the dentist for a teeth cleaning? As with many questions, it depends on who one asks and the overall condition of one’s teeth and gums. A relationship exists between the frequency of teeth cleaning and the incidence of long-term tooth decay.
It has been suggested that an annual trip to the dentist suffices for most people, especially if they are diligent in brushing and flossing their teeth. Annual visits will allow the dentist to catch any problems that might arise early and will permit the hygienist to give one’s teeth a thorough cleaning.
However, there is an exception to the rule. If a person has two or more risk factors for gum disease, such as diabetes, smoking or genetic predisposition, then a teeth cleaning twice a year is recommended. With the twice a year cleanings, the dentist will be able to catch any incidence of gum disease before it progresses.