Maybe going to the dentist is not your idea of a good time. Fair enough. But regular dental visits are important for the health of your teeth, gums and even for your overall wellness. Your insurance company and your dentist’s office might disagree on the number of teeth cleaning visits you need per year. Fortunately, there could be a compromise that suits your insurance company, your dentist and – most importantly – you.
Do I really need to go to the dentist every 6 months?
No doubt you have heard that a visit to your dentist is in order at least every six months. But can you get away with a little longer between visits? “The maximum time frame we recommend is six months,” confirms Guelph Village Dental’s Dr. Ketan Mistry. “There’s been a huge push to nine months – the big thing is that everyone’s insurance companies are becoming more stringent with their coverage. But there’s no clinical or scientific evidence to say that nine months is better.”
In fact, it appears that six months is the maximum time to go between dental cleanings. “Both anecdotal and clinical studies show that six months is the longest you should go without professional cleaning,” Dr. Mistry says.
Even if your insurance plan dictates that you go for a dental cleaning every nine months, you may be able to visit the dentist every six months and still get full or partial reimbursement of your expenses. “Often the cleanings are still covered every six months or even more frequently,” Dr. Mistry notes. “Nine months is for the dental check-up by your dentist only.”
At Guelph Village Dental, staff members communicate with patients’ insurance companies to determine individual coverage. “We take it upon ourselves to explain a patient’s individual plan to them,” Dr. Mistry says. “As long as their company allows, we will get their insurance breakdown with coverage amounts and visit frequency.”
It could mean that you visit the dentist for teeth cleaning or scaling two or three times per year, but receive the examination by the dentist when eligible. Be sure to discuss with your dental office staff what expenses might be out of pocket. At some dental offices, costs may be above the Ontario Dental Association’s suggested fees. Some insurance companies won’t reimburse any fees above the suggested rates. “The majority of our fees follow the Ontario Dental Association’s standard fees,” notes Dr. Mistry.
Are there exceptions to the 6-month rule?
Your dentist will suggest the optimum number of visits based on individual needs. “It all depends on your mouth,” Dr. Mistry notes. “Some people need X-rays once a year and need to have cleanings every few months. I can tell you six months is the longest you should go, but we see a lot of patients more often.”
People with diabetes are more susceptible to gum disease and certain types of oral infection. “We urge them to come more often,” Dr. Mistry says. Immunocompromised patients and those with decreased coordination may also need more regular dental care. For some elderly patients, brushing and flossing is difficult and diminished oral care may warrant extra dental cleanings.
Overall, regular dental visits mean less dental work in the long run. “Prevention ends up being easier, faster and cheaper than letting it get to a certain point and trying to treat it,” Dr. Mistry notes.