Do we really need dental check-ups every 6 months?

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“Prevention is better than cure” they say! This is particularly the case in medicine and dentistry.

Dental check-ups every 6 months may seem pointless to some people? (Hopefully) most of the time your dentist will have nothing to report, and it’s all over in 10-15 minutes. Indeed if you’re already doing everything right, taking proper care of your teeth and gums, why bother going for your routine check-ups every 6 months?

Example: Compare the cost of the Preventative approach (check-ups every 6 months) Versus the Reactive approach (only go to the dentist when in pain) over say a 4 year time-frame, based on 2015 fees.

We will use the example of a lower first molar – this is the first adult molar to come through when you are 6-7 years old, and therefore it’s the tooth most commonly needing a filling.

If you take the Preventative approach of having your routine check-ups every 6 months, your dentist may pick up an early cavity that could be treated with a simple relatively pain-free small filling. Most early cavities do not cause symptoms.

Now compare the Reactive approach. That small cavity if not spotted on time, can progress quickly to the tooth nerve. At this stage this will often lead to a root canal treatment. As most root canal filled teeth are weaker, your tooth will usually also need to be crowned (or ‘capped’).

1. Preventative approach      Vs.      2. Reactive Approach
Check-ups every 6 mths                  Go to the dentist when in pain

>8 check-ups in 4 yrs (£320)         > Emergency Appointment (£55)
>Small white filling (£95)               > Root Canal Treatment (c. £380)
–                                                          > plus Porcelain Crown (£475)

Total = £405                        Vs.         > Total = approx. £910

This example illustrates that ‘Reactive’ treatment (only seeing a dentist when you are in pain) is far costlier than the ‘Preventative’ approach. It also causes you more pain and involves more time spent in the dentist’s chair. Lastly in spite of your dentist’s best efforts that root-filled tooth with crown will save your tooth from extraction, but it will never be as robust as a tooth with a small white filling.

So next time you are looking at your dentist’s ceiling having a check-up and wondering is it all worth it, just remember to take a long term view!!

Shelley Manor Dental is open Monday to Saturday. Call 01202 443882 for further information.