This Is How Often You Really Need To See Your Dentist

Few people enjoy going to the dentist. While your dentist is probably a perfectly nice person with no villainous intentions, sitting down in their chair likely isn't high on your list of fun things to do. Still, it's necessary in order to maintain your oral hygiene. The question is, just how often do you have to take the trip?

Colgate notes that while the twice-a-year visit rule originated from a toothpaste advertisement, it's a good rule of thumb. However, your dental needs are unique to you. In fact, the general suggestion to visit your dentist every six months has been questioned as far back as 1977, according to the BBC. That was that year a paper appeared in The Lancet journal, written by Aubrey Sheiham, a professor of dental public health at University College London. Sheiham stated that there was no evidence that visits every six months were necessary. The BBC says that Sheiham is still making the same argument today. But if there is no hard evidence for a twice-yearly dental check-in, just how often should you go?

Your dental needs are exclusive to you

The final answer, according to Colgate, is up to your dentist. It will be based on factors like your personal oral health, any dental problems you may have, and whether or not you belong to a high-risk group. These groups include people with diabetes, those who are pregnant, smokers, and people with gum disease.

This position was mirrored in a statement released by the American Dental Association (ADA) in 2013. In its statement, the ADA said that the frequency of dental visits should be based on each patient's specific needs and how often their dentist thinks is best. Its suggestion came after the University of Michigan concluded a study that compared the risk of long-term tooth loss in people with and without high-risk behaviors. The researchers found that people with diabetes, those who smoked, and those who had interleukin-1 genetic variations needed more frequent cleanings to maintain oral health. Those without these risk factors saw the same benefits from annual cleanings, rather than twice-yearly visits. If you're not sure whether you fall into a high-risk category, you can ask your dentist or healthcare provider. From there, they can work with you to decide how often you should go in for a visit.