How often should you be going to the dentist?
A health watchdog based in Yorkshire has recently launched a project, which aims to free up dental appointments by encouraging patients to attend check-ups less frequently. Many of us believe that it’s necessary to attend checks every 6 months, but how often do you really need to go to the dentist?
For many years, it has been assumed that six-monthly check-ups are recommended for all, but a growing number of dental experts believes that the frequency of visits can be reduced without harming oral health. England’s chief dental officer, Sara Hurley, suggested that 6-monthly checks were not essential for all patients, and NICE guidelines recommend checks every 3-24 months depending on the patient’s oral health status. While those who are prone to dental health problems may need to attend appointments every 3-6 months, those with a very low risk of oral issues may not need to see a dentist for 2 years after their most recent check-up.
The new project in Yorkshire is certain to get people talking about the frequency of dental visits, and it will be interesting to see the results of the pilot. Healthwatch Kirklees, which is working with NHS departments and local dentists, is hoping to encourage patients to communicate with their dentists to determine how often they should go to the surgery, rather than relying on advice, which isn’t tailored to the individual.
The advice from dental experts is to check with your dentist. If you haven’t been for a routine appointment in the last 9 months, it’s probably a good idea to book a check-up in the near future. Once your dentist has examined your mouth, they will be able to tell you when you will need to return for your next appointment. If you get a clean bill of health, and everything looks good, you may not need to go back for another 9-24 months.