In most cases, dentists recommend coming in for two visits each year for examinations and cleanings; however, there are times when dentists feel this is not enough. If your dentist encourages you to come in more frequently, it is probably because you are considered a high-risk patient, and here are several things to understand about this.
What Makes a Person a High-Risk Patient?
People considered high-risk patients typically have some type of quality or problem that puts them in this category. One quality a person may have that would place them in the high-risk category is smoking. When people smoke, they typically develop more oral problems than people who do not smoke.
In addition to smoking, there are other factors that can put you in the high-risk category. These can include people with a history of gum disease, people with diabetes, and people suffering from diseases that cause weakened immune systems. Additionally, women who are pregnant automatically get placed in a high-risk category.
There are also people in this category that are there simply because they tend to develop a lot of plaque on their teeth, and going six months between cleanings is just too long for some people.
What Problems Could High-Risk Patients Have?
People in the categories listed above tend to develop more oral problems than normal, and one of the main problems they can develop is gum disease. For example, people who smoke have a greater chance of developing gum disease. This occurs because smoking interferes with the oxygen delivered to the gums. When the oxygen level is restricted, the gums will often suffer. Diabetes and diseases that weaken the immune system can have similar effects, and this is why people in these categories should visit a dentist more frequently.
If you are in a high-risk category, your dentist might recommend coming for visits every three or four months. This would mean that you would need three or four visits per year instead of two, but visiting the dentist more frequently could help you protect your teeth and mouth. The purpose of these visits is ultimately to remove built-up plaque from your teeth and to examine your mouth to detect problems before they get too large.
If you have not visited a family dentistry within the last year, you should schedule a visit. An appointment with your dentist is the best way to protect your mouth and understand your risks.