You see your primary care physician once a year for a routine physical examination. So, why does the American Dental Association and your dentist in North York, Dr. Eli Shem-Tov, advise oral exams and cleanings twice a year? Reasons vary, but the philosophy is the same: keep teeth and gums clean, and prevent big problems from happening.
What’s Magical about Six Months?
The answer is there’s nothing magical about seeing your dentist every six months. In fact, some people have such healthy gums, hard enamel and are at such a low risk for oral cancer that once a year may be fine for them.
Other people may need to see Dr. Shem-Tov more frequently than semi-annually–every three to four months, for instance. This is because some patients simply build-up plaque and tartar more quickly, have softer, cavity-prone enamel or have a hereditary tendency toward gum disease.
Further, people with diabetes or are immunosuppressed in some way benefit from vigilant dental hygiene at home and at North York Dental. Pregnant women should see Dr. Shem-Tov once per trimester to control pregnancy gingivitis, increased tooth decay and hormonal-based benign tumors on gum tissue.
The bottomline? Six-months is a good general rule, but your dentist will tell you if and when you should vary your schedule.
During a routine oral examination, Dr. Shem-Tov accomplishes several tasks. First, his dental hygienist scales teeth, removing the plaque and tartar which build-up on enamel, beneath gums and in interdental spaces. The hygienist polishes each tooth. She may also take digital X-rays which help the doctor view hard to see areas of the mouth and to assess bone structure and tooth roots.
Then the dentist does a tooth by tooth oral exam, counting them and noting their positions and condition (tooth decay, existing restorations, such as fillings). He assesses bite, jaw joint function and signs of teeth clenching and grinding (bruxism).
Dr. Shem-Tov also measures and charts depth of periodontal pockets to check for gum disease. He looks for tooth decay and even performs a quick, comfortable assessment for oral cancer, inspecting gums, cheeks, tongue, under the tongue, back of the throat and roof of the mouth. Oral cancer screening, says the American Dental Association, helps detect this deadly disease early and thus improves chances for a complete cure.
Finally, the dentist shares the results of his exam with the patient. They discuss a treatment plan, including preventive dentistry recommendations (fluoride treatments, plastic sealants, mouthguards), restorative treatments needed (fillings, crowns, periodontal or endodontic therapy, tooth replacements) and cosmetic work, such as veneers, whitening and composite resin bonding.
It’s a Great Idea
Be sure to combine six-month exams and cleanings with good brushing and flossing at home. Together, they optimize your oral health and bright smile. Contact North York Dental for your appointment with Dr. Shem-Tov.