Ask Dr. Furey: Dental checkups and cleanings

Q: I recently read a newspaper article which seemed to say that regular dental visits may not be necessary. What’s the truth?
I read that article, too. Actually, the researchers said that a person’s frequency of regular dental care should be based on individual needs and risk factors. While I agree with this assessment, I see some issues with how the researchers reached their conclusion. In particular, they didn’t consider two important risk factors, oral hygiene and diet. At Furey Dental Group, we consider your individual needs and several risk factors when
recommending the frequency of your dental care.

Q: What are those risk factors?
Besides oral hygiene and diet, other risk factors include history of dental disease, certain anatomic factors, the condition of existing restorative work, specific systemic conditions such as diabetes, whether you smoke and excessive tooth wear or erosion. Newer studies show a possible link between dental disease and the presence of Interleukin 1, a blood marker for inflammation.

Q: Whatever happened to the “every six months” interval?
Years ago, the dental insurance industry set the six-month standard by agreeing to pay for two teeth cleanings per year. Every six months may still be appropriate for many people. However, it’s more important to base our recommendations on your individual needs and
risk factors.

Q: Why are regular dental visits so important?
In a word, prevention. Through regular dental care, we can more effectively manage the causes of dental disease, such as plaque accumulation. We also can identify dental disease at an earlier stage, minimizing the amount of treatment needed.

Q: How often do I need X-rays?
As with other aspects of your preventive dental care, the frequency of dental X-rays should be based on your individual needs and risk factors. Generally, we take decay detecting images every 12 to 36 months.

Q: What should I do if my dentist recommends teeth cleaning every six months, but I think my risk factors are low?
Discuss it with your dentist. There should be a specific reason for this recommendation. Ultimately, it’s your teeth and your decision as to how often you visit the dentist. If you
decide to extend the interval, do so with the understanding of the risks involved. An
informed decision with input from your dentist is usually the best way to go.

Want to ask Dr. Furey a question about your oral health? Click here to send him an e-mail. Call us at  651-490-9011, or click here to request an appointment.

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