If you want to keep your teeth as strong and healthy as possible (and we hope you do!), you likely know how important it is to schedule dental appointments, even if you’re not showing any signs of dental problems. Routine appointments will make sure your teeth are clean and that any problems—or potential for problems—are kept under control. But how often should you go to the dentist? Once a year? More? Less?
How Often Should You Go to the Dentist?
Most dental professionals agree that going to the dentist every six months—i.e., twice a year—will keep your teeth at their healthiest. This is for a few reasons: common problems like gum disease and cavities are preventable with care, so your twice-a-year routine visits will reduce your risk for these issues. These appointments also allow your dentist to check for rising dental complications you might not be able to see or feel, as well as monitor already existing problems.
At your routine visits, your dental team will . . .
- Clean your teeth. Your daily brushing and flossing are crucial to maintaining clean, healthy teeth, but a dental professional’s tools and products offer a much deeper cleaning. A dentist or hygienist will thoroughly clean your teeth—up to and just underneath your gum lines—to remove plaque buildup. This will help prevent gingivitis/gum disease, cavities, decay, and other problems.
- Take an x-ray. Only a portion of your teeth is visible to the eye—the rest are tucked away in your gums. That means you need an x-ray to check on them and see if any problems are rising. X-rays can diagnose problems like abscesses, impacted teeth, bone damage, and more.
- Examine your mouth. Dental visits are not just about the teeth—they’re about the whole mouth. To keep an eye out for problems, your dentist will examine everything: your teeth, gums, tongue, and more. These checkups help reduce your risk for diseases of the mouth, like gum disease or oral cancer.
Two per year is not everyone’s magic number, however. Each individual case is different, and some patients may need to see their dentist more or less often than twice a year. Your own dentist will help your determine your number, but those who should consider more frequent visits are:
- Patients with gingivitis or gum disease
- Patients who are pregnant
- Children whose adult teeth have just come in (adult teeth are more prone to decay at this point)
- Patients with a tendency for cavities
- Patients with a tendency for plaque buildup
Because twice a year isn’t always the right number for everyone, check with your dentist to see how often you should schedule appointments. Remember that the best way to minimize your number of appointments per year is your at-home dental care—daily brushing and flossing.