How often you go for dental exams depends on your oral health needs.

The goal is to catch small problems early. For many people, this means a dental exam every six months. Your dentist may suggest that you visit more or less often depending on how well you care for your teeth and gums, problems you have that need to be checked or treated, how fast tartar builds up on your teeth, and so on.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I floss every day?
  • Do I brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and follow my dentist’s instructions on how to brush properly?
  • Do I eat a well-balanced diet, including food from all food groups, and limit sweets and sticky foods?
  • Do I smoke?
  • Do I have a history of cavities or gum disease?
  • Is my overall health good?

The answers to these questions are all factors that affect your oral health. They will help you and your dentist decide how often you need to visit for dental exams. It’s worth noting that you should not determine your need for dental care on what your dental plan covers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need dental radiographs (x-rays) at each visit?

How often you need to have X-rays also depends on your oral health. If a new cavity starts it could take up to 2 years to progress to a size that requires a filling, therefore x-rays are not required at each visit but rather at intervals that is appropriate for you.

If your dental situation is less stable, your dentist will monitor your progress and may require more frequent X-rays.

If you are not sure why a particular X-ray is being taken, ask your dentist. Remember that dental X-rays deliver very little radiation; they are a vital tool for your dentist to ensure that small problems don’t develop into bigger ones.

When should I take my child to the dentist for the first time?

It’s important to get an early start on dental care so that your child will learn that visiting the dentist is a regular part of health care. The first step is to choose a dentist for your child.

It may be your own dentist or one who specializes in treating children (called a pediatric dentist). The CDA encourages the assessment of infants, by a dentist, within 6 months of the eruption of the first tooth or by one year of age.

This provides an opportunity to discuss the prevention of oral disease and to give early dietary advice.

Visiting the dentist early in a child’s life also lessens the chance of a problem going undiagnosed. Seeing a dentist before a problem develops will make the first visit a positive experience for your child.

Be sure to get an early start on regular dental care at home. Start cleaning your child’s mouth with a soft damp cloth before teeth come in and continue with a soft toothbrush once he or she has a first tooth. It is very important to limit the number of sugary treats and beverages (especially juice) to lower their risk of getting cavities.

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