How Often Should I Get a Cleaning?
posted: Jun. 18, 2011.
Some of my patients are surprised (or should I say, upset) when I suggest that they come in for a cleaning more frequently than six months. Their reply in most cases is "But my insurance company will pay only for a cleaning visit every six months" - which is a fair response. I would blame the insurance companies for this situation. The insurance companies like the steadiness of the six month recall concept. However, it is not in the best interests of the patient that is not yet inflicted with the disease but exhibits patterns that need more aggressive attention to prevent the disease. The dentist, in most cases, is seeing something completely different. She is seeing a huge group of patients (more than 80%) that need more than just six month recalls. It is extremely important to remember that gum disease is 100% preventable, but once seen in the mouth, it is not 100% curable, and in most cases, it is less than 100% arrestable. So the dentist needs to have the flexibility to be able to see the patients more frequently than six months. Our practice philosophy is that preventing gum disease is the better model both from a medical and economic perspective.
My sincere suggestion to patients is to seek out a more individualized perio treatment from your dentist based on your own unique periodontal issues. Disregard what your insurance is willing to pay. You may spend more or less initially, but in the long run you will save more money.
To summarize, if you take one message home after reading this, please remember one thing: Gum disease is like cancer. In the earliest form (Gingivitis) it is curable. After that, it’s only possible to achieve remission. Let your dentist help you to prevent gingivitis - so the next time your dentist asks you to come for a cleaning appointment that may be sooner than six months, don't give her grief!