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Why is it Important to go to the Dentist Regularly?

Going to the dentist regularly may help individuals prevent major dental problems.
A dental hygienist may offer a patient tips for keeping teeth healthy.
A psychologist may be consulted to help a patient overcome the fear of going to see a dentist.
A dentist has specialized equipment that is designed to remove plaque and tartar from all around teeth.
Dental X-ray.
A woman having a dental exam.
Article Details
  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 02 August 2014
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Many people are reminded that it is important to go to the dentist regularly, but the full reasoning is not always explained. Since many people have an intense fear of the dentist, understanding why it's necessary to go on a regular basis may encourage otherwise nervous individuals to make an appointment. According to the American Dental Association, people should visit the dentist twice a year for a cleaning and checkup, and some individuals may need to visit more often, if they are identified as “at risk.” If you have not been within the last six months, you should probably make an appointment.

The primary reason to go to the dentist is to keep your teeth in excellent health. During a tooth cleaning session, a dental hygienist can be much more thorough than you can at home. The dentist has specialized equipment that is designed to remove plaque and tartar while cleaning all around the tooth. The dental hygienist can also offer tips and suggestions for keeping your teeth healthy, and will generally tell the doctor how the session went, so that he or she can address specific issues.

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Most dental problems do not become painful or visible until they are highly advanced. Unfortunately, serious dental issues are usually irreversible, meaning that an extremely painful tooth will have to be drilled or extracted. By going to the dentist regularly, you can keep an eye on your teeth with the help of x-rays and a physical examination. The dentist can identify areas of potential risk and head off major dental problems early. A dentist can also identify the need for gum grafts, braces, or other measures to protect the health of your mouth.

If you go to the dentist regularly, you will avoid high risk dental infections. Not only are cavities painful, they are also potentially very dangerous for you. The infection can spread to your bloodstream, for example, leading to septicemia. Early detection will save you pain, money, and potentially serious health problems. If you don't go, you may also experience serious health problems down the line.

It is understandable to be afraid of a trip to the dentist. If you experience immense anxiety or stress when you go to the dentist, you may want to consider visiting a psychologist or psychiatrist to talk about the issue. A mental health professional can help to talk you through your issues and address them. If necessary, a psychiatrist can prescribe anti-anxiety medication to help you visit the dentist without fear.

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Discuss this Article

starrynight
Post 14

@eidetic - That's the truth! I have dental insurance, but it's still extremely expensive to get a root canal or a crown. I had a root canal a few years ago, and from what I remember, it was something like $800. And that was with insurance!

eidetic
Post 13

@fify - I don't see anything wrong with going twice a year, especially if you have insurance. My insurance covers a cleaning and checkup twice a year, so I hardly have to pay anything when I go for a cleaning. I think last time I went, it was either free, or under ten dollars.

However, getting a root canal or a cavity filled can get kind of expensive. So I'd rather go for a free/cheap cleaning then put it off and end up paying a lot for serious dental work. Then you'll really be making your dentist rich!

betterment
Post 12

@Azuza - I'm the same way as you are. I had a bad experience with a dental checkup when I was a kid, and I've been scared to go back to the dentist ever since. I make myself go though, but it isn't easy. I only make it in once a year, instead of twice a year. That's about all I can handle.

Azuza
Post 11

@SarahGen - I have a horrible fear of going to the dentist, just like your daughter. When I was in college, I literally did not go for four years. I finally had to go when an old filling fell out, and I ended up having to get an emergency root canal that day!

I also needed a lot more dental work, which could have been prevented if I had just gone to the dentist for routine cleanings once or twice a year! So instead of getting cavities filled, I ended up needing several root canals and a few crowns. It was miserable, and very expensive.

stoneMason
Post 10

@fify-- But what if you don't know that there is a problem until it's too late?

I don't know about you but I can't even see the teeth in the back of my mouth. If I had a cavity, an infection or anything back there, I would have no idea until it gets so bad that it gives me pain. If a cavity is paining, it means it has gotten to the root of the tooth where the nerves are. Don't you think that's too late to go to the dentist?

fify
Post 9

I do think that an occasional visit to the dentist is a good idea, but one every three months or six months is too often. I brush my teeth twice a day and floss. I don't need to make my dentist rich when there is no problem.

SarahGen
Post 8

I have the hardest time getting my college age daughter to go to the dentist regularly. She's been afraid of the dentist's office since she was little. When she was home, I was forcing her to go every six months for a routine cleaning. But now that she's in college and away from home, she refuses to go.

She's been complaining about a tooth ache for the past couple of days over the phone. She finally got an appointment to see the dentist next week. I don't want to say "I told you so," but I'm almost certain that she has a cavity. This is exactly why everyone needs to go to the dentist regularly. The cleaning done by the dentist is really good and if there are any signs of a cavity forming, they can tell you early on.

anon238002
Post 6

Go to a dentist twice a year? Ridiculous! Check out the current (Jan. 2012) edition of Consumer Reports. Even the dentists acknowledge you're getting ripped off if you go more than once a year, unless you're unusually at risk (don't take care of your teeth or have certain diseases).

My dentist has been upping his fees 10 percent a year for the past decade and I am now paying $250 for a checkup. Nothing is ever wrong. So that's the price for a 15-minute cleaning. Absurd. I'll never go to him again.

I know how to take care of my teeth and in the event of some anomalous problem, I'll call on some dentist who's associated with my Medicare plus program--as pathetic as he may be.

sunshined
Post 5

Most dentists recommend regular 6 month checkups and if you have dental insurance, they will usually cover a big portion, if not all, of these charges every 6 months. But going to the dentist without insurance can be quite expensive.

If you don't have insurance and are not having any problems, you may have to not go as often, but I still think it is important to have your teeth cleaned and checked regularly. I want to keep my own teeth for as long as possible.

SarahSon
Post 4

One thing to think about if you are going to the dentist while pregnant, is to be sure and tell them before they do any kind of x-rays. Even if you don't know if you are, but think you might be, I would not have any x-rays done.

My dentist is always good about asking before they do this, but it doesn't hurt to let them know. You should be OK if you are just having your teeth cleaned though.

bagley79
Post 3

I try to go to the dentist every 6 months for regular teeth cleaning. I am not scared of the dentist, but always dread going. I do feel better when I am done though and my teeth feel great. I try to keep up with this schedule so I know about the health of my teeth before something major happens.

They will usually take bite wing x-rays every so often, and once every 5 years they do a x-ray that circles my whole head which gives them a better view of what's going on.

regin24
Post 1

wow, i haven't gone to a dentist i think in seven years. Didn't feel like i need to. maybe i should go some time.

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