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How Often Should You Go to the Dentist?

Fifty years ago, examinations of people entering the military showed that the average American's teeth were in pretty bad shape and few people took good care of their teeth. There were no guidelines for how often you should see a dentist, and many dental professionals focused on fixing problems rather than preventing them. Dental and health organizations trying to set standards for preventive dentistry settled on a "best guess" recommendation of twice-yearly visits to the dentist for checkups and cleaning.
The recommendation proved to be a useful rule of thumb and has remained common. Even if you take excellent care of your teeth and gums at home, you need to see your dentist regularly so he or she can check for problems that you may not see or feel. Tooth decay generally doesn't become visible or cause pain until it is in more advanced stages.
Regular visits allow your dentist to find early signs of decay and disease and treat problems at a manageable stage. Ask your dentist the best schedule for your routine dental visits.
On average, seeing a dentist twice a year works well for most people. A few people can get away with fewer visits; others may need more frequent visits. People with very little risk of cavities or gum disease can do fine seeing their dentist just once a year. People with high risk of periodontal disease(because of current gum disease, a weak immune response to bacterial infection or a predisposition to plaque buildup or cavities) might need to see the dentist every three or four months, or even more frequently, for the best care.
The schedule for any person may change during a lifetime. In times of stress or illness, it may be necessary to see the dentist more frequently than usual to help fight off a temporary infection or treat changes in your mouth. If you take good care of your teeth and gums at home and your dentist doesn't find any cavities or gum disease for a few years, he or she may choose to lengthen the time between visits.
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