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The advice to see your dentist twice a year actually originated with a toothpaste commercial some 60 years ago, writes Dr Kate Hakala, a dentist with a private practice in Denver, in a column on Examiner.com.
While the advice was basically sound, an unfortunate consequence was that when employers began offering dental insurance to their employees, most of the insurance companies only allowed two teeth cleanings a year.
Dental health research has progressed in leaps and bounds since that time, and now that two times a year limit is almost a minimum. The ADA recommends visiting your dentist "regularly" for cleanings which can help prevent periodontal disease.
It's the fact so much more is known about this disease that makes it likely a dentist will recommend more frequent cleanings. Gum disease can have serious consequences, and not just for a patient's oral health. Gum disease has been linked to heart disease and strokes, and inflammation may have other systemic effects.
Diabetes and smoking are possible risk factors for gum disease, so patients with these conditions are likely to have more cleanings than the two a year recommended.
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