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Six-Monthly Dental Visits: Tooth Truth Or An Accepted Lie?

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  1. Home
  2. Dental Articles
  3. Periodontal Treatment Articles
  4. Six-Monthly Dental Visits: Tooth Truth Or An Accepted Lie?
Six-Monthly Dental Visits Tooth Truth Or An Accepted Lie  -  Sunbury, Gisborne & Diggers Rest - Sunbury Dental House
Ah, Finland. Land of the heavy metal band, kaboom country of the first molotov cocktail, and nation of kalsarikannit (staying in, drinking beer in your underwear with no intention of going out).

The average Finn drinks their way through more than 12kg of coffee a year.

Such is their reverence for caffeine that by law working Finns are given two ten-minute coffee breaks a day. They even out-coffee the Swedes by 4kgs – the people that gave the world Nespresso! (Sacrificing the planet for convenience, one pod at a time…)

With the 150 to 500 years it takes for those aluminium and plastic capsules to breakdown it’s the Swedes who should take up that weird Finnish summer tradition of ant nest sitting. Unlike anywhere else in the world, they do it on purpose. Without pants.

Yeah. You don’t want ants in them.

You do, however, want a sauna. At Burger King. Go to Helsinki and sink a Whopper while you fry yourself with fourteen of your friends.

If you think that’s bizarre, don’t go to KFC in Hong Kong. You can get finger lickin’ good edible nail polish there in two flavours: original and hot ‘n spicy. I mean, Listerine was initially a very unsuccessful floor cleaner before it was marketed as a breath freshener, but a nail polish with eleven herbs and spices?

Pass me the mouthwash … that I’ll use as a foot soak – because it’s actually not a useful thing to include in your general oral health regimen. It destroys the healthy bacteria in your mouth, dries out its naturally protective mucous membranes, and increases your risk of oral cancer. Mouthwash is acidic. It disrupts the pH balance, is linked to the development of tooth sensitivity and can in fact, cause gingivitis.

So what some take for granted as true in terms of maintaining good strong teeth and healthy gums, is not always the case.

Six-Monthly Dental Visits Tooth Truth Or An Accepted Lie  -  Sunbury, Gisborne & Diggers Rest - Sunbury Dental House
Take the six-monthly dental appointment rule: the one that’s set in stone. This unquestioned criterion has no basis in science, medicine or even ancient tradition. Its origin is the 1930s marketing genius of one Claude C. Hopkins.

He had Pepsodent to sell. A minty, frothy toothpaste in an era when nobody regularly brushed their teeth. At the time, the US was a nation of cavity-filled mouths and missing teeth. It was so bad, the Army declared poor dental hygiene a national security risk because of the rotting teeth of so many World War I draftees. The oral hygiene we take for granted now is thanks to the campaign Hopkins devised to have people change their habits.

His campaign to sell toothpaste meant he had to convince people to brush their teeth every day.

Twice. Because the key to successful advertising is to connect an idea or a sensation to a product.

The idea was attractiveness – “You’ll wonder where the yellow went when you brush your teeth with Pepsodent.” The sensation was its fresh, minty taste. The point of difference was that it was an inexpensive way to improve yourself.

The campaign was an incredible success. Best of all, Hopkins created the tagline: Use Pepsodent twice a day – see your dentist twice a year.

It infers that the more you use the product, the less you have to see your dentist; maybe more frequent appointments were made before then. Whatever happened, “see your dentist twice a year” stuck like popcorn between your teeth in the psyche of Americans, and the rest of the world.

To put an end to any ideas that Finnish things are children and adolescents have been entitled to free dental care through Public Dental Services (PDS) since the 1950s; including orthodontics. Healthcare overall is considered good, with 88% of the population being satisfied with it – in comparison to the EU average of 71%.

Maybe that’s why you can lay around in your undies drinking beer; your general health needs include dental, and it’s pretty much all taken care of.

With Finland being twice nominated as the happiest country in the world, it’s no surprise that a study to analyse the impact of optimism, and life satisfaction on dental check-ups. It was a postal questionnaire with a 75% response rate – so the research participants numbered 8,700.

Classification was of two categories: those who went for check-ups at least once in two years, and those of even less frequent attendance than that. A Life Orientation Test measured optimism; life satisfaction was a single question response. Variables were gender, marital status, education, income and employment status, with multivariate analyses via log-binomial regression models.

The study revealed that independent of all other factors, life satisfaction among women, and optimism among men was associated with dental check-ups. There was no discernible correlation between socioeconomics and rate of appointments.

What the study strongly suggests is that any dental health policy, whether it be a personal or sanctioned one, it’s the psychosocial aspects that need to be taken into account.

A much smaller Netherlands study – after the requirement for check-ups every six months was changed to a routine examination no more than once a year – indicated a patient preference for regularity. The evaluation of twice-yearly visits was significantly more positive than anything more individual and flexible. Associated factors were female gender, higher general satisfaction with one’s teeth, less cynicism toward dental professionals and a more intrinsic incentive for maintaining oral health.

Overall, it appears that like lick-able nail polish or a side sauna with your burger, sometimes it’s a matter of choice.

Six-Monthly Dental Visits Tooth Truth Or An Accepted Lie  -  Sunbury, Gisborne & Diggers Rest - Sunbury Dental House
A minority of people just have ‘good teeth’. For others in this blessed demographic, it’s because they brush and floss regularly and proficiently, they eat well, and respect their dentists’ advice. However, most in this category are just lucky. They hit the nature/nurture pay dirt. They don’t necessarily eat particularly healthily, they’re not that great at brushing or flossing – but for some reason they’re decay free and gum disease resistant.

Annoyingly, they probably don’t need to be seen by their dentist every six months.

On the other hand, if you don’t have many cavities, and your dental hygienist tells you your gums are in ‘pretty good shape’ then it’s worthwhile having a routine check every six months. It’s a useful habit that the Dutch would agree with, and it will help keep in good dental health for your entire life.

If goes without saying that any history of periodontal disease, tooth looseness or pain, bleeding gums or any kind of oral discomfort, it’s in your best interest to see your dentist more frequently. Don’t be afraid to ask questions; don’t be afraid to discuss any and all of the pros and cons relative to your particular situation.

After all, you don’t want it to be the painful or embarrassing state of your mouth that has you kalsarikannit; you want that to be a matter of choice.

Note: All content and media on the  Sunbury Dental House website and social media channels are created and published online for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice and should not be relied on as health or personal advice.

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Great dental practice! Fong is a very experienced dentist acquiring all my dental needs and the nurse Emily helped my dentist experience a comfortable one. Highly recommend them.

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