A century ago, poor oral hygiene among Americans joining the military during WWI was considered a national security risk. Less than 10% of people in the United States owned a toothbrush, and even fewer purchased toothpaste (a snake oil type product peddled by door to door salesman). Today, more people own smartphones than toothbrushes. It was clear in 1914 and it remains clear today, a stronger emphasis on preventive dentistry could help keep people healthy, save them time and money, and allow them to keep their smile for a lifetime. A study started in 2006 by the Centers for Disease Control and prevention showed that in less than a decade the percentage of North Americans over the age of 60 who needed dentures has decreased from 31 to 25%, and this seems to be a growing trend. Preventive dentistry is responsible for increased numbers of adults who can retain their smile for life. Preventive dentistry including regular dental checkups can help you keep natural smile. Call to schedule a six month checkup with Dr. Anthony Giamberadino in Medford, MA, or to ask about our new patient specials.
Why Six Month Checkups?
As a result of the distressing number of military personnel with severe oral health issues during WWI, dentists decided that preventive care should be stressed. They knew people should start seeing the dentist before they had problems rather than after, but there wasn’t a lot of research letting them know how often would be the most beneficial, so they made a guess. They started recommending regular dental visits twice a year. Now, this was a highly educated guess made by professionals, and it may not have worked if it weren’t the help of the marketing masterminds behind Pepsodent tooth powder.
In a series of advertisements in the 1920s, Claude Hopkins created ads that promoted twice daily tooth brushing with Pepsodent, and twice a year dental visits to keep teeth feeling clean. The ads used a simple habit building formula: cue, result, repeat. The “cue” was the gritty feeling on the surface of the teeth. The ads encouraged people to run their tongues over their teeth in the morning and at night before brushing to feel the texture. Then, brush with Pepsodent tooth powder (paste didn’t come along until the 1950s), and run your tongue over your teeth again. The result clean, smooth, perfect smiles. The only way to keep your smile that way? Twice a day brushing and twice a year dentist visits.
This habit created an entire industry. The first dental hygienist was trained in 1913, but the wide spread training of hygienist started in conjunction with the ad campaign. Additionally, tooth brushes and powders were sold at the local apothecary or pharmaceutical store not just by door to door salesman, and many dental offices began giving free tooth brushes to patients around this time. Eventually, dental insurance companies were formed, and they too supported the six month checkups by covering dental checkups twice a year. Mr. Hopkins, in short, may have had more influence on dental health than any dentist ever has.
Missed a Few Checkups and Need a General Dentist, Somerville?
So the source of the six month dental visit may be a little lacking in research based, evidentiary support, but since the 1920s, the dental community has gathered some hard evidence to support their predecessors’ lucky guess work. Studies show that patients who have their teeth cleaned every six months have a significantly lower risk for ever having tooth decay, gum disease or tooth loss. Children who have six month visits starting from the eruption of their first tooth can receive preemptive orthodontic care so their teeth develop straight and evenly spaced rather than fixing them later with more difficult, painful orthodontia. Dental innovation has also allowed screenings and treatment of bruxism, oral cancer, and TMJ disorder during six month visits. These potentially serious health concerns when diagnosed in their early stages can be treated with minimally invasive, conservative dental methods.
Some behavioral habits indicate that you may need more frequent visits to the dentist. This includes smoking, eating large quantities of sugary or processed foods, irregular oral health care routines, and conditions like bruxism (teeth grinding or clenching) and dry mouth that make the teeth more susceptible to decay. Other patients who eat healthy, maintain an excellent at home dental hygiene routine, and are physically healthy may be able to get away with skipping a checkup, but why risk it? For every year without a dental checkup your chances for serious periodontal (gum) disease, oral cancer and tooth loss increases exponentially. It turns out that the habit started by a toothpaste ad in the 1920s, may just be one of the best habits you can adopt today.
Call Your General Dentist, 01890
William Bernbach once said, “The most powerful element in advertising is the truth.” At Giamberadino Dental Care of Medford, MA, we agree. Our practice is dedicated to providing individual, preventive care so our patients have fewer cavities, and more smiles. Call to schedule your checkup today. Our friendly dental care staff welcomes patients from Medford, Winchester, Somerville, Malden, Everett, and nearby communities.