How often should you visit the dentist? The question might sound an obvious one – surely the conventional wisdom is that we are all supposed to visit the dentist for a check up every six months. But if you have been keeping up to date with the latest news, you will know that some are challenging this long-held belief and suggesting that for those in good dental health, a check up every two years is actually sufficient.
The problem, however, is the fact that more and more of us are not in good dental health, and even more alarmingly, this is particularly the case with children under ten years old. According to experts at Docklands Dental, the regularity with which anyone needs to have their teeth checked is highly contingent on their personal circumstances, but where children are concerned, it should certainly be at least once per year.
War on sugar
Lifestyle, diet and congenital conditions play a big part in all aspects of child development, and dental health is no exception.
But of all these three aspects, diet is certainly a major factor, given a high profile by shocking statistics that the most common reason for children aged between five and ten to be admitted to hospital is for extraction of decayed teeth.
Little wonder that there are calls for a war on sugar and for improved oral hygiene.
Government programmes have been rolled out in parts of the UK to combat this avoidable problem that costs so much pain and heartache, not to mention the small matter of £35m per year. However, coverage is sporadic and by no means universal in these cash-strapped times.
For example, Scotland introduced its Child Smile programme back in 2007, and has since seen huge improvements in oral health and reductions in the money spent on general anaesthetics. The programme provides supervised toothbrushing in nurseries and free home dental packs for every child.
Wales has a similar programme called Designed to Smile, that has also reaped massive benefits since its introduction in 2009.
Yet elsewhere in the UK and Ireland, such programmes are conspicuous by their absence, and limited only to sporadic projects funded by local authorities.
A regular routine
While the onus has to be on parents to instil and maintain a good oral health routine in their children, a regular visit to the dentist is certainly a very important part of that routine, which brings us back to our opening question.
Your dentist will, of course, provide guidance in all aspects of dental health and keep you on the right path in looking after your kids’ teeth. He or she will also be on hand to check that adult teeth are coming through at the right time and in the right place.
But perhaps even more importantly, regular visits mean children become accustomed to the routine of visiting the dentist. This means they start to build their own relationship with the dental team, and adopt good oral hygiene habits to carry into later life.