Making and keeping routine dental checkups ensures that one’s teeth and gums are clean and healthy. Those appointments, which professionals usually suggest take place twice a year, also screen for more serious oral problems, such as mouth cancer. Still, prime oral health is not achieved by dental visits alone. It is a patient’s responsibility to take good care of their teeth daily at home.
Dentists Dr. Deena Sher, M.S., at Sher Smiles Orthodontics and Periodontics in Broadview Heights, and Dr. Cheryl Stern, former owner of Dr. Cheryl R. Stern DDS, which is now called Akiva R. Berger DDS, in Beachwood, discussed the importance of visiting one’s dental provider regularly to keep their oral health in good shape and gave advice for taking good care of one’s teeth in between appointments.
“An electric toothbrush is always really beneficial,” Sher said. “It’s a lot more efficient at cleaning plaque off of your teeth than a regular, manual toothbrush.”
Regular flossing is also important, she said, noting that any type of floss, waxed or not waxed, will work to clean in between the teeth.
“I recommend patients to brush twice a day,” she said. “In terms of flossing, I would recommend daily flossing, either morning or nighttime.”
Sher explained that the number of times a person should visit a dental provider is patient-specific, but for people who are in good oral health, every six months is good.
“A patient who has more specific needs, a patient who has gum disease, might need to see a dentist or a periodontist more frequently, possibly every three months, to keep their gums healthy,” she said. “Also, maybe a patient in orthodontics – a patient who has braces on their teeth – may also benefit from additional cleaning per year because they’re more prone to cavities.”
She mentioned keeping routine dental appointments, which are relatively inexpensive, helps avoid facing more serious problems later on, which may be expensive to treat. This proved true as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, she added, because people were staying away from public places during that time and, once they could go back out again, some returned with dental problems.
Stern said best practices for maintaining good oral health are to brush twice a day for two minutes and floss once a day.
“Most people do better with an electric toothbrush,” she pointed out.
It is good to visit the dentist twice a year, Stern noted. At those appointments, they will check for cavities and gum disease, and professionally clean a patient’s teeth.
Similar to keeping consistent checkups with a primary care physician, it is critical to keep consistent dental checkups, she said.
“Basically, it’s the same as medical problems,” Stern said. “If you find something small, a small problem, many times you can prevent it from becoming a big problem and it will save you time, money and pain. Ignoring the small problems can lead to a bigger problem down the road.”
She recommended patients find dentists they can trust and who will be honest with them. It is equally important for patients to be honest with their providers. If a dentist moves practices and a patient has become comfortable with them and their work, it might be worth it to follow them.
If a person is looking for a good dentist, she said the best way to find one is through referrals from family and friends. In some cases, money shouldn’t be an object when finding the right provider.
“Sometimes, cost shouldn’t always be the deciding factor when choosing a dentist,” Stern said.