How Often Should You Go to the Dentist?

How Often Should You Go to the Dentist?

Routine dental care is essential for protecting oral health. Most dentists recommend that patients 12 months and older visit twice yearly for a cleaning and comprehensive exam. Some patients may need more visits, especially if they have existing periodontal disease.

Benefits of Preventive Dental Care

Regularly seeing your family dentist has many benefits:

Lower Risk of Oral Health Problems

Preventive dental care lowers your risk of developing harmful conditions like gum disease and tooth decay.

Oral Hygiene Instruction

Preventive care also teaches you and your child how to care for your teeth at home. Your family dentist or hygienist can help you with brushing and flossing techniques.

Oral Cancer Screenings

Dentists routinely perform cancer screenings in the jaw, neck, and mouth. These cancers typically respond better to early treatment.

Reduce the Overall Cost of Treatment

If you visit your dentist on a regular basis, they will catch tooth decay and gum disease at earlier stages when they are less costly to treat.

Saves Natural Teeth

Preventable issues like cavities and gum disease often cause tooth loss when left unchecked. Replacing a tooth that has fallen out or needed extraction is much more complicated than caring for your natural teeth.

Improve Overall Health

Oral health and overall health are interconnected. Researchers associate oral health problems like gum disease with severe conditions like heart disease and diabetes.

About Your Dental Visit

A dental visit typically takes 45 minutes to an hour. Your dentist and hygienist will take time to perform a comprehensive examination, clean your teeth, and help prevent future problems.


Most routine dental visits include these steps:

Step 1: Digital X-Rays

Dentists typically take digital X-rays or radiographs once yearly, but they may take more if they suspect a problem. X-rays detect hidden decay and other possible issues while helping the dentist check on restorations like crowns and fillings.

Today's digital scans use 80 to 90 percent less radiation than the film X-rays used in the past, making them safe for children and adults.

Step 2: Cleaning

A dental cleaning is the cornerstone of the twice-yearly visit. Cleanings have many health benefits and leave your teeth in excellent condition.

  • Examination: Your hygienist will examine each tooth for signs of damage or decay, noting areas of concern.
  • Scaling: The hygienist removes all tartar and plaque above and below the gum line using a scaler tool. Only a dental professional can remove tartar before it can cause gum disease.
  • Polishing: The hygienist uses a spinning toothbrush to polish your teeth. They apply a gentle, gritty toothpaste that removes surface stains without damaging your tooth enamel.
  • Flossing: You will receive flossing instructions from your hygienist. They will expertly floss your teeth to remove all traces of plaque and debris.
  • Sealants: Children receive sealants on the permanent molars. Sealants are a safe resin material that protects the deep crevices in the molars, preventing cavities.
  • Fluoride: Young patients typically receive fluoride treatments at the end of their visit, but fluoride is not just for kids. Talk to your dentist or hygienist if you are interested.

Step 3: Dentist Examination and Oral Cancer Screening

Your dentist will review the hygienist's findings and check your teeth and X-rays. They will discuss your concerns and answer your questions. They will perform a comprehensive oral cancer screening, including the head and neck.

Frequently Asked Questions About Preventive Dental Care

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

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children see the dentist when their first tooth emerges or by age 12 months, whichever comes first. Early dental care helps your child feel comfortable in the office and allows your dentist to track your child's oral development.

Does a dental cleaning damage my teeth and gums?

Some patients may believe that dental cleanings are harmful, but they are entirely safe. Occasionally, patients experience discomfort during scaling, but this problem could point to gingivitis, the earliest form of gum disease. Cleanings help to keep gum disease in check.

Call 376 Dental Studio

Routine dental care is a valuable component of your overall wellness. Every patient needs dental cleanings and examinations. Please call our Waltham, MA, office today at 781-373-3068 with questions and to book an appointment for yourself or a family member.