Exam Frequency

How often should I see my dentist?

Most dentists agree that a good rule of thumb is for patients to see their dentist twice a year.

The American Dentist Association (ADA) states the following: “The frequency of their regular dental visits should be tailored by their dentists to accommodate for their current oral health status and health history.”

This means that your dentist may schedule more or less frequent visits based upon your oral hygiene, habits and medical conditions. If you have very little risk of forming cavities or developing gum disease, seeing your dentist once a year may be fine. However, patients who are at high risk of dental disease should have visits every three to four months, possibly more.

How do I know if I’m at high risk for dental disease?

The following factors dramatically increase the risk of developing dental disease:

  • Smoking or using tobacco
  • Pregnancy
  • Diabetes
  • Existing gum disease
  • A weak immune response to bacterial infection (e.g., due to another disease, condition, or treatment)
  • Poor oral health habits (Not brushing or flossing regularly)

Of course, your situation may change during your lifetime. In this case, your dentist may choose to lengthen or shorten the time between visits.

I take excellent care of my teeth and gums. Do I still need to see a dentist regularly?

Yes, for various reasons.

Your dentist can check for problems that you may be invisible to you. Often, problems with dental health (such as cavities, gum disease, and oral cancer) don’t become visible or cause pain until they’ve already reached advanced stages, at which point they are more difficult to manage.

By seeing your dentist regularly, he or she can diagnose these problems before it’s too late.

Will my dentist have to examine me every time I come in for a cleaning?

At times, a dental hygienist may perform your dental cleaning. However, even patients with good oral health should be examined by a dentist at least once a year.

Other factors may play a role in how often you need to be examined. For example, your dentist will conduct an exam before planning any clinical treatment or procedure. If you’re suffering from ongoing health issues (oral or otherwise), it is advisable to have your teeth examined more regularly.