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People who follow the recommendations for healthy dental care know the routine - brush at least twice daily, floss at least once daily, use mouthwash and visit the dentist twice a year for a check-up and cleaning.
Most of that advice still stands, but one component - the dental cleaning every six months - may not be necessary for everyone. A new study conducted at the University of Michigan has recommended that people with no risk factors for developing tooth decay or gum disease can have one cleaning annually without problems.
However, the study published in the Journal of Dental Research still advised people who have diabetes, are smokers or have a genetic predisposition for gum disease should continue the twice-a-year-regimen.
"Patients with one or more risk factors, which represent over half of the population, should visit at least twice a year and likely more in some cases," said study author William Giannobile, D.M.S., a professor of dentistry and biomedical engineering at the University of Michigan.
Regardless of how many dental cleanings and check-ups are necessary for parents and their children, the cost is often beyond their reach. Many have no dental insurance because of the high price of insurance premiums. For those families, signing up for a discount dental plan may be the right choice because it offers many dental services at reduced rates.
In the University of Michigan study, the research team reviewed data on more than 5,100 adults who had regular dentist visits for 16 years, had no history of gum disease and had their teeth cleaned once or twice every year. The frequency of tooth loss, patient risk factors and their dental care history were all considered in the study.
Based on the data, the team agreed that one yearly cleaning was enough for those with no risk factors while two cleanings should continue to take place for people with one or more of the three risks noted in the study. Patients who have two or more risk factors may require more than two cleanings annually, the group concluded.
Giannobile said the study's findings are in line with a move toward "personalized medicine," particularly since dental problems are widespread and costly, but preventable. With access to more affordable oral health services through a dental plan, families would be better able to pursue the number of cleanings they need each year based on their risk for tooth decay and gum disease.
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