03 Aug

New guidelines recommend dental check-ups every 12 months for patients in England and Wales

Dental patients in England and Wales do not need to attend routine check-ups every 6 months if they have good oral health, according to new guidelines.

The chief dental officers for England and Wales have confirmed new guidance, which encourages dentists to adjust recall times for patients with healthy teeth. Rather than going to the dentist twice a year, adult patients will only need to attend one appointment per year. 

The recommendations are part of a new NHS dental agreement. It is hoped that lengthening the time between practice visits for patients with good oral health will help to reduce waiting times and enable teams to tackle treatment backlogs. The advice is based on research, which suggests that six-monthly appointments are not required for people who don’t have oral diseases or an elevated risk of developing dental problems.

Recommendations for children and teenagers have remained the same and patients who have existing dental issues and a high risk of oral disease will also be advised to attend more frequent appointments. 

In Wales, the chief dental officer, Professor Andrew Dickenson, said that the changes in recall times would allow dental practices to treat 112,000 more patients per year. 

Changes in advice relate to NHS dental practices in England and Wales, but dental practices across the UK issue advice based on patient needs. Individuals who have dental conditions should see a dentist every six months or more frequently if needed. Those with a clean bill of oral health and a low risk of developing dental symptoms should visit every 12 months. In some cases, when risks are very low, appointments may only be needed every two years. 

Routine dental appointments involve an examination and a series of basic checks, which are designed to spot warning signs of decay, tooth wear and gum disease. Check-ups also include oral cancer screening. Dental teams can also offer advice about healthy eating, giving up smoking and oral hygiene.