Are twice-yearly dental visits too much?

Are twice-yearly dental visits too much?

Most dentists recommend a visit every six months for dental cleanings. But new research questions the twice-yearly appointment scheduling.

A recent University of Michigan study found that an annual cleaning may suffice for those without risk for periodontal disease. Patients with higher risk, which represent more than half of the population, should visit the dentist twice yearly at a minimum, according to the research.

As part of the study, researchers looked at the correlation between the frequency of dental visits, long-term tooth loss and the three periodontitis risk factors: smoking, diabetes and genetics. They reviewed data from 5,117 dental exams from adults who visited the dentist on a regular basis for 16 years. The participants had no history of periodontitis and consistently received one or two cleanings each year.

The results showed that high-risk patients (having at least one of the three risk factors) received significant benefit in preventing tooth loss from two dental cleanings per year. In high-risk patients with two or three risk factors, research showed that more than two cleanings per year may be needed to prevent tooth loss. In low-risk patients, those who had no risk factors, the results found that the second cleaning did not have significant value in reducing tooth loss beyond that achieved with one cleaning each year.

Contrary to these findings, Dr. Leo Morton, a pediatric dentist in Hoffman Estates, Ill., and dental division director of Advocate Lutheran General Hospital says he believes regular dental visits are important.

“I believe all adult patients should visit their dentist twice per year. While most people do not get their teeth professionally cleaned and examined two times per year, they should, in order to maximize prevention. This does not mean getting x-rays and fluoride at every visit, but it is important to get a professional cleaning to remove hidden plaque deposits,” says Dr. Morton.

However, Dr. Morton does say that those with higher risk factors should visit their dentist more than twice per year, depending on their prognosis. “Every patient is different, and it is important that dentists communicate the importance of dental check-ups to all patients, high-risk or not.”

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  1. Winnipeg Dental Clinic July 29, 2013 at 5:19 am · Reply

    Oral Hygiene is very important for everyone. To maintain your Oral Hygiene visit t your dentist for dental check- up at least once or twice a year,

  2. Great blog! Your recommendations really hit the spot. If you and your family are based in Ohio, close friends also refer this dental clinic to visit:

  3. My dentist takes xrays of my teeth once a year. I’m wondering if this is necessary.

  4. I think people often forget how important dental hygeine is. I think its better safe then sorry. I try to visit my dentist twice a year.

  5. Manjitsingh Bhalla September 10, 2014 at 1:28 am · Reply

    Surely, depending upon an extent to which your oral health is weakened! Dentist visits may more likely be defined upon ones’ overall oral health with any dental problems being associated (those needing to be treated or observed often). Yes, it is certainly one’s habits for taking unhealthy diet (sugary & sticky), smoking and alcohol drinking that may lead to various sorts of dental issues – people with such conducts deserve higher candidacy more than people living normal life.

    Defining your candidacy (realistically) is also your wisdom. Just make sure you never overestimate or underestimate any need that is really real!

  6. Virginia Davis July 10, 2015 at 1:27 pm · Reply

    Thanks for the information. It is difficult for me to schedule dentist appointments around my work, so I wondered if I could get away with visiting the dentist less frequently. I think I’d rather be safe, so I will probably continue to schedule two appointments a year. Plus, like Dr. Morton says, a professional cleaning can remove hidden plaque deposits that I can’t get with my teeth cleaning regimen.

  7. Wow, this is actually really interesting! So many people know off the top of their head how often you should go to the dentist. Because for our entire lives, we’ve been told six months. Which is a good rule of thumb, I think, even still. Especially if half of Americans are at risk of periodontal disease and need that extra visit anyway. Going more often isn’t going to hurt anything. Thanks for writing!

  8. I may just talk to my dentist to find out more information about when I need to take my kids for a dental check up. I just want to make sure that they get started as early as they can.

  9. Lillian Schaeffer April 12, 2016 at 4:53 pm · Reply

    This is some great information, and I appreciate your point that those without risk of periodontal disease should visit a dentist every year. I moved out to college about a year and a half ago, and I realized that I haven’t visited a dentist since then. I’ll definitely look into setting up an appointment with one, and I’ll be sure to do so yearly in the future. Thanks for the great post!

  10. I agree– you should definitely go to a dentist at least twice a year if you are considered high-risk. However, if you take really good care of your teeth and don’t get cavities very often, I think it is okay to have an exam done once a year. The study was really interesting, though. I think I might start going twice a year again.

  11. Best Orthodontist in Parkland March 28, 2017 at 1:02 am · Reply

    I like teeth whitening but it depends upon how you care your teeth and where you are going to the best orthodontist in Parkland or other location. I learned new things from your helpful information and thanks for sharing.

  12. Wow, I never knew that diabetes was such a benefactor for people with a few tooth issues. My dad has had diabetes for the past few years, and I don’t think he’s had any issues with his teeth. I’ll have to ask him if he’s been to his past check-ups, if he hasn’t I’ll have to see if I could schedule one for him.

  13. Thanks for this informative blog. I learned that we should go to the dentist at least twice a year. dave

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.