Almost half of Kiwis between the ages of 25 and 44 haven't visited the dentist in the last 12 months, and a quarter haven't been in 24 months, according to the results of an Institute of Health and Welfare survey.
How often do you lean back in that dentist's chair? Twice a year, once every two years or only when you're in pain? Unfortunately avoiding the dentist is all too common here in New Zealand, and many of us just aren't getting the care we need.
With that in mind, let's look at how long you can safely go without visiting the dentist and why regular visits are beneficial.
What happens when you avoid the dentist
Dentists often quote six months or a year as the ideal amount of time between dental checkups. However, the fact is, this varies person to person and depends on a number of factors such as age and lifestyle. However, it's important to note that if you don't go often enough you may put yourself at higher risk of:
- Oral cancer.
- Plaque and tartar buildup.
- Gum disease.
- Continuing bad dental care habits.
Even the most careful brushers and flossers can experience cavities and other oral ailments, so it's always best to err on the side of caution. The longer you put off treatment, the more expensive and complicated the fix will be.
Even the most careful brushers and flossers can experience cavities and other oral ailments.
Young people need more frequent visits
When children are growing their jaws and teeth shift and grow. They may also be vulnerable to tooth decay, due to the typically high sugar diet of young Kiwis. To ensure their teeth develop correctly and that tooth decay doesn't set in, kids with growing teeth shouldn't stay away from the dentist for more than six months.
They may be able to visit less frequently in their late teens when their teeth will be almost fully developed. When they reach their 20s, however, their wisdom teeth may start to push through and more regular visits will be necessary to monitor their progress.
High risk groups may need to visit more often
Certain people who are at a higher risk of developing problems with their teeth or oral hygiene should visit the dentist every six months, or more. These at risk groups include:
- Pregnant women.
- People with gum disease.
- Those with high sugar diets.
- People with a weak immune response to bacterial infection.
During times of stress or illness more frequent visits are usually a good idea.
Less frequent visits for healthy teeth
If your dentist rarely discovers problems during your visits, and if you're at little risk of cavities and gum disease, you may be able to extend the length between your visits. One year is a good length of time to start with, and for some two years may even be acceptable.
It's important to remember that everyone's unique and will require different levels of dental care. If you're not sure how often you need a checkup, or if you've been avoiding it for years, book a consultation online at City Dentists today.
We can assess your risk level and recommend a schedule so that you can take the best possible care of your teeth, without visiting us more often than you really need to.