How often should you go to the dentist?

Popular wisdom states that most people should visit the dentist every six months for a professional dental cleaning and oral health care checkup. But is that really necessary? People with ongoing dental health issues or special circumstances certainly should see their dentist frequently, but what about everyone else?

There are a couple of factors to consider:

Age of the patient:  Permanent teeth are most susceptible to decay right after they erupt, so it’s important for children to visit the dentist frequently. Your pediatric dentist can advise you about a cleaning and consultation schedule that is best for your child. Orthodontics are also a consideration when children are young. Also, wisdom teeth appear in the mouth when children are in their late teens, so additional consultation may be needed during that time frame, as well. 

Your overall dental health: For most of us regular visits are enough to keep our dental health in top shape.  Talk to your dentist about what’s right for you.  Generally speaking, you should visit the dentist at least once a year, but visit with your oral health care professional about your particular health situation and oral health concerns to help you determine a schedule that’s right for you. The goal is for your dentist to see you often enough to detect any major issues or problems as early as possible. Your dentist is trained to watch for small clues and seemingly minor changes that could mean a bigger health concern is looming.

Your overall general health: Of course dental visits are important for maintaining oral health, but dental visit can also help your oral health care provide detect other non-dental related issues such as anemia and diabetes.  So somewhat regular visits are important for not just your mouth, but your overall health and wellness, too.

More frequent visits mean easier oral cleanings: Another reason not to wait too long between visits: cleaning.  Plaque is always building up on your teeth. And left too long, plaque will turn into tartar that needs to be scraped off of your teeth.  More frequent visits can prevent prolonged scraping sessions. More frequent visits may also prompt improved oral hygiene practices. If you know you’ll be back at the dentist in a few months, that may prompt you to brush and floss more regularly, knowing someone is going to be checking your teeth sooner rather than later.

More frequent visits may help you handle dental anxiety: If you’re avoiding going to the dentist due to nerves, more frequent visits may actually help.  This seems counter-intuitive, but frequent visits help you develop an ongoing relationship with your oral health care provider and allow you to address concerns and handle issues you may be facing.

Does the thought of oral health care give you anxiety? Does the idea of a routine dental visit, cavity filling or root canal treatment make you cringe?  Do you worry about the discomfort from dental injections used to numb the mouth prior to dental procedures?  Talk to your dentist.  Many dentists have tips, tricks and tools available to help you deal with dental anxiety.  And many dentists use the DentalVibe tool to completely eliminate the pain that can go along with dental shots during fillings, root canals and other dental procedures.  And if your favorite dentist doesn’t currently use DentalVibe, you can even recommend it to your dentist. Talk to your dentist about your concerns. Your oral care team can help you develop an oral care routine that’s right for you.  They can also help you conquer your dental anxiety and prevent the discomfort associated with dental procedures.  That’s something to smile about!

Going to the dentist can be anxiety-inducing or schedule crunching even once or twice a year, especially if you’re not having issues.  It’s simply something people don’t like to make time for. So how often do you really need to go to the dentist? Simply put, it varies depending upon your dental health and other factors.  Talk to your dentist about what’s right for you.

To learn more about painless dental procedures, visit to find a DentalVibe dentist near you.

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