Unnecessary Dental Procedures?

If there are any dentists out there, I have two questions.

I should mention that my teeth are in good shape; my gums don’t bleed when I brush them; I floss several times a week (yes, I know: it should be more); I use an ultrasonic toothbrush.

Question #1: I switched to a new dentist and this one insists that I come in to have my teeth cleaned every three months. That’s four times a year! My previous dentist was perfectly happy to do it only twice a year (and she charged half what this guy does!).

Question #2: Last time the dentist checked my teeth, he said that I had some old filling that were “leaking”. I asked what that meant and he said they were old and should be replaced, “Just to be safe”. I said I’d think about it, but thinking about it now it seems to me that in order to replace them he’ll have to drill out an even bigger hole. Why fix it if it ain’t broke?

IANA Dentist.

  1. My denti$t $ure would like to ee me every three month, too. And my hu$band, and all three of our kid$. I have no idea why–I’m ure he only ha our be$t intere$t$ at heart.

I’m such a cynic. :smiley:

Actually, it seems to be standard practice, for dentists to tell you to come in for cleaning every three months. I really have no idea why, other than the obviou$ motive. Needless to say, the Goo$e family doe$ not comply.

  1. Old fillings can deteriorate and develop decay under them. If you really don’t trust him, you may certainly take your X-rays to another dentist and pay him to look at them and give you a second opinion. How many fillings are we talking about here?

That’s what I would do. My current dentist doesn’t simply tell me, “You need to have such-and-such done”–he goes through it with me in painstaking detail, showing me the x-rays, making sure that I understand what I’m getting into and what it’s going to cost. It sounds like you may have a dentist who simply expects you to take his word for it. If so, I’d definitely get a second opinion, because “fillings” plural can run into some money, not to mention time off work to have it done.

I once had another dentist tell me, flat out, that I needed a $1300 root canal, and when I went to a second dentist for another opinion, he looked at the x-rays and said, “Nahhh…” Is it merely coincidence that the first dentist was paying for a brand-new state-of-the-art facility? Like I said, I’m a cynic.

“Leaking” fillings - Older type fillings (not sure how old) had either mercury or lead or both in them. Old fillings can start to leak these materials as they deteriorate. So, the advice to have them replaced is not frivolous. Also, as another poster mentioned, decay can occur around and beneath filings if air can get in. Fillings expand and contract with heat and cold and slowly work themselves loose from teeth. Ceramic fillings are even more volatile in this respect, so unless you want to have fillings changed every 5 years or so, stick with the metal fillings (which no longer contain mercury and/or lead).

More frequent cleanings - there is a reason for the old saying “getting long in the tooth” when speaking of a person aging. As you age, the gums don’t “stick” to teeth as well, or don’t grow as fast (I’m not a dentist, so don’t know the reaons) allowing more stuff to get under the gums. This makes gums recede, making a tooth look longer as more of it is exposed. Extreme receding gums expose root material and can make your teeth sensitive to heat or cold. Keeping the under-gum area clear of “junk” can help prevent excessive receding.

While every 3 months may be more than strictly necessary, especially if your mouth is in good condition, every 6 months is a good idea.

IANAD, either, but what makes gums recede to expose more root is lack of flossing, keeping tartar (calculus) and, consequently, bacteria out of the gumline. You should (must) floss every day.

I’ve been told often in the past to see a dentist every three months, and in different cities and by different dentists. I actually now see a “regular” dentist every six months, but a periodontist every six months also: every three months. They correspond with each other as to the results of their exams and if any corrective action is necessary by the other, which has happened on more than one occasion.

The reason for this is that my teeth are jammed together, due to my small mouth. For this reason, I had a tooth pulled years ago, in the hopes that my remaining teeth would spread out. (That didn’t happen.) Also because of this, my wisdom teeth were growing horizontally under the gums and they all had to be pulled. No matter how conscientiously I brush (I brush 3 times a day) or floss (daily), I will build up plaque due to the crowding of my teeth.