Regular dental visits matter. Exams and cleanings help ensure that small problems don’t turn into big – and expensive – ones. They’re also an opportunity for you to ask questions and get any needed hygiene, nutrition, and other coaching to keep your oral/systemic health the best it can be. (Plus we just like seeing you!)
But what does “regular” mean?
For centuries – yes, centuries! – the standard answer has been “twice a year – or more frequently if you have gum disease.” The idea is traced back to a French physician named Pierre Fauchard, who’s known as “the father of modern dentistry” for writing the first complete scientific work on the specialty. His book was published in 1728.
But it took modern advertising to popularize the idea – one that went essentially unquestioned until the 1970s (sort of like the use of mercury amalgam to repair teeth). Even then, there wasn’t much evidence for or against the practice.
Last month, Cochrane published its latest review of the evidence for 6-month “recall” visits, analyzing results from two large, randomized controlled trials on the effects of different visit frequencies. At least for adults, they found little difference whether patients saw their dentist twice a year or on a different schedule based on their risk of various oral health problems.
There was little to no difference between six-monthly and risk-based check-ups in tooth decay (number of tooth surfaces affected), gum disease and quality of life after four years; and probably little to no difference in how many people had moderate-to-extensive tooth decay.
There wasn’t enough evidence to say whether the same might be true for children, but the authors expressed confidence in their findings.
These results are in harmony with the kind of personalized approach that biological dentistry has advocated from the start – and that holistic dentistry favored in the years before biological dentistry even had a name. While we all share important similarities, each of us is unique, after all – mouth, body, mind, and spirit – with a unique health history that presents unique risks and challenges.
So we don’t just care for mouths; we care for people.
This is why we stress biocompatibility (different for everyone) and customized treatment plans, specific to your particular health situation. It’s why we devote so much to patient education, so you are empowered to make informed decisions about your oral/systemic health – choices that jibe with your needs, values, and goals.
It’s all part of the tooth/body difference.