You may assume you should have a dental check-up every six months, but some people may not need to go so often and others may need more frequent checks.
The time between check-ups can vary from three months to two years depending on how healthy your teeth and gums are and your risk of future problems.
A check-up allows your dentist to see if you have any dental problems and helps you keep your mouth healthy. Leaving problems untreated could make them more difficult to treat in the future, so it's best to deal with problems early, or, if possible, prevent them altogether.
At each check-up, your dentist should:
Examine your teeth, gums and mouth.
Ask about your general health and any problems you’ve had with your teeth, mouth or gums since your last visit.
Ask about, and give you advice on, your diet, smoking and alcohol use, and teeth-cleaning habits.
Discuss with you a date for your next visit.
Fewer than half of U.S. children under age 20 visit a dentist at least once annually, and even fewer minority youths receive regular dental checkups, according to the most recent data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Newark Star-Ledger reports.
According to AHRQ, 34% of black youths and 33% of Hispanic youths visited a dentist annually in 2004, compared with 53% of white youths. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends children receive at least two dental checkups annually. In addition, 31% of those from poorer families made such visits, compared with 47% of children from middle-income families and 62% of those with higher incomes.
Some experts say the disparities are related to a shortage of dentists who treat Medicaid beneficiaries, as well as families' lack of access to health insurance and adequate dental coverage.