How Often Should You Go to the Dentist?

Booking a biannual checkup is routine for most people. However, many others struggle when it comes to scheduling an appointment with their dentist. Putting off going to the dentist is only going to lead to complications later in life.

But how often should you go to the dentist? If you’ve never had your teeth and gums checked before, the best time to see a dentist is as soon as possible. However, even those who’ve been registered with a dentist for years may need to rethink the frequency of their visits, with lifestyle factors and health conditions increasing the need for regular dental checkups.  

The Importance of Regular Dental Appointments 

If you want your teeth and gums to remain healthy for as long as possible, regular dental checkups are a must. During an appointment, your dentist will inspect your teeth and look for signs of decay and oral disease.

In many cases, your dentist will find nothing of concern and give your teeth a clean bill of health. However, there’s always a chance they’ll spot something that needs addressing. If you have any cavities, your dentist will arrange a follow-up appointment to perform filling treatments.

If there is evidence of more serious issues, your dentist may suggest increasing your dental checkup frequency to monitor the situation.  

PRSI and the Treatment Benefit Scheme 

Are you putting off visiting the dentist because you’re worried about the costs involved? You shouldn’t be. The Treatment Benefit Scheme is available to anyone who’s made enough PRSI contributions and can be used to cover the cost of an annual routine dental exam and enjoy a scale and polish for just €15. 

More than 2.2 million people in Ireland can access this benefit. However, according to a recent report by the Irish Dental Association, only around a third of eligible patients did so in 2022.  

What Are You Visiting the Dentist For? 

While you should be attending routine dental exams once every six months, you may decide to visit a dental clinic outside of these appointments. If your dentist finds any issues that need to be resolved, a treatment appointment will be scheduled. Things like fillings and root canals can be carried out in a single session, but more complex procedures may require several visits to your local clinic.

“Many patients also choose to schedule an appointment with a dental hygienist,” said Deirdre Dunne, a dental hygienist, and the owner of Bandon Dental. “An experienced hygienist can perform everything from a scale and polish to more specialised services like periodontal treatments.” 

Are you thinking about orthodontics to treat misaligned teeth? Orthodontic treatments such as braces, retainers, and Invisalign will require you to visit the dentist frequently outside of your usual checkup times.  

What Can You Expect from a Typical Dental Checkup

how often should you visit a dentist

If you’re returning to the patient chair for the first time in a while, you may have forgotten what happens during a dental checkup. However, there’s no need to be anxious about your appointment. Your dentist will carry out a full examination of your mouth, checking each tooth in turn and inspecting the gums for any signs of disease. You’ll also be asked about new health conditions you’ve been diagnosed with since your last visit or whether you’ve experienced any dental problems recently. If this is your first visit, you may also be asked a few lifestyle questions, such as your smoking status or whether you consume alcohol.

Once the examination has been carried out, your dentist will let you know they’ve found anything of concern and recommend a treatment plan if need be. If your teeth and gums are in good condition, you’ll be asked to schedule your next appointment in six months. However, if there’s any cause for concern, a dentist may suggest booking an appointment sooner.  

Should You Be Thinking About More Regular Visits? 

If you’re regimented about your oral health routine, dental appointment intervals of once every six months should be sufficient. However, there are a host of different factors that can determine how often you should visit the dentist.

“Lifestyle tends to be a driving factor behind common oral health conditions,” Deirdre Dunne commented. “Dentist visit recommendations may be more frequent if you’re a smoker and your teeth are already showing signs of decay. Regularly consuming alcohol or foods high in sugar can also lead to gum problems and premature tooth loss.”

Do You Have Other Health Conditions? 

Many pre-existing health conditions can put you at a higher risk of developing dental diseases. More than 266,000 people in Ireland are thought to be living with diabetes. A common side effect of the disease is increased glucose levels in saliva, which can lead to dry mouths and perfect conditions for plaque formation. 

National charities like Diabetes Ireland offer a wealth of knowledge for those living with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes who are worried about how their condition can impact their oral health. People with compromised immune systems tend to suffer from conditions like dry mouth and develop cavities more easily. A low immune response also puts them at a higher risk of things like periodontal disease.

If you don’t know where to start when it comes to oral health maintenance, the Dental Health Foundation Ireland (DHF) provides plenty of useful resources for patients. Along with practical tips for keeping a healthy smile, you’ll find more detailed preventive dentistry guidelines that will help you stave off tooth decay and prevent periodontal disease.

Make Dental Visits a Regular Thing 

We should all be visiting the dentist at least once every six months. Regular checkups ensure any sign of tooth decay or gum disease is spotted early. If it is, there’s plenty of time for intervention to stop things from progressing into something more serious.

Some people will need to visit a dentist more regularly. If you’re diabetic, pregnant, or suffer from an immune-related condition, you face a higher risk of tooth decay and other oral issues. Dental care scheduling needs to be considered carefully to keep your gums and teeth looking their best.

What’s more, don’t dismiss your dental health because of the cost. If you’ve paid enough PRSI entitlements, you’ll qualify for a free routine examination once every 12 months. You can also use your entitlements to partially offset the cost of treatments like a scale and polish.

Book Your Next Checkup with Bandon Dental 

Looking for a dentist in Bandon? Whether you’re long overdue for a checkup or have never visited the dentist before, Bandon Dental is here to help. Since 1980, we’ve been a recommended dentist in Cork for patients in Bandon and beyond. You’ll find a full range of treatment options here, whether that’s a routine checkup, cosmetic solutions like teeth whitening, or restorative dentistry like crowns and bridgework

Ready to make your next appointment? Get in touch with the team via an online form or call us at (023) 884-1752.

Author Bio:

Deirdre Dunne

Bandon Dental’s dedicated owner. A highly qualified Dental Hygienist, Deirdre has over a decade of experience, with a diploma in dental hygiene from Cork University’s Dental School and Hospital. Deirdre is committed to continuous up-skilling and investment in the most up-to-date technology in our practice. This ensures our patients receive the highest standard of care, as Bandon Dental stays abreast of the latest advancements in dental hygiene for optimal oral health.

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