Ask LH: How Often Should You Visit the Dentist?

Ask LH: How Often Should You Visit the Dentist?

I know, I know. You don’t want to hear this because I know you already know, but you should probably go to the dentist. While I’m sure you have your reasons for not going, it’s incredibly important to your oral and overall health to get regular dental checkups.

As the ABC recently reported, COVID lockdowns have played a massive role in Aussies not going to the dentist regularly, with some having not gone for over two years now.

In fact, according to the ABC, a survey released by the Australian Dental Association (ADA) last month showed that around two-thirds of Australian adults haven’t gone to the dentist since 2020. Moreover, a quarter of Aussies haven’t gone to the dentist in more than five years. And a third said that they have postponed their dental treatments since the beginning of the pandemic.

Look, I get that no one likes going to the dentist, I’m someone who loathes going and I hate my teeth being touched, but it’s still super important to make sure you’re going at least once a year. If I can deal with half an hour of pain, so can you.

How often should adults go to the dentist?

Image: Getty

It’s the question that we all wish didn’t have the answer that it does, but it’s recommended that adults have a routine dental check-up every 6 to 12 months.

In saying that, however, the ADA says that a cookie-cutter approach won’t work for everyone as we all have very different dental requirements.

Depending on your current situation, you might need to see the dentist more or less frequently than others. Your dentist can advise you how often they think a general check-up is necessary.

For instance, a dentist may want to see you more regularly if you smoke, have diabetes, take medications that can affect oral health or even if you’re a tooth grinder. In cases like these, they may want to see you every 3 to 4 months instead of 6 to 12.

If you’ve got a very low risk of oral disease and keep your teeth in pretty good shape, however, you might only need to see the dentist every 1 to 2 years.

Of course, if you’re experiencing major dental issues or notice the beginning of tooth decay or just have general concerns about your teeth it’s best if you go and see the dentist as soon as possible.

Why you should get regular dental check-ups

Image: Getty

We can talk all day about how often you should go to the dentist but you’re not going to listen until you understand why you should be going regularly.

According to the ADA, regular routine check-ups aren’t just important for keeping your teeth healthy but also your gums and your mouth as a whole. Going to the dentist regularly means they can detect signs of tooth decay and gum disease earlier which also makes treatment and prevention a lot easier.

You might just think the dentist is just having a cheeky look at your teeth when you’re there, but they are actually doing so much more than that.

During a general check-up, dentists will evaluate your oral hygiene and diet, the health of your teeth, lips, cheeks and gums and also your risk of decay and disease. They should also be checking for things like tooth wear, growth and alignment of your teeth and jaw, as well as identifying any problems with your bite.

Catching these things early can also help lower the cost of treatment as it is less likely to be a major issue at that stage. The only way you can do this, however, is to go to the dentist at least once or twice a year.

Along with lockdowns and general uneasiness, the cost of a checkup also deters people from going to the dentist. A trip could set you back from around $156 to anywhere near $300 for a general checkup (including an examination, scale and clean and a fluoride treatment).

It’s worth checking to see if your health fund (if you’re with one) covers dental. Many offer two free dental checkups a year, so cash in on that.

Unfortunately, Medicare only covers dental services in very specific circumstances, like emergency dental surgery or referrals to specialists like orthodontists.

To help ease any anxieties about going to the dentist, Colgate Australia has some useful information about what you can expect in your dental visit.

Although no one likes going to the dentist, it’s still super important to go and make sure you’re getting a check-up at least once a year. Your teeth and gums will thank you in the long run.

If you’ve got a burning question that you need answering, send it to us and we will answer it! Your question could be featured on the next Ask Lifehacker.

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