How Often Should You See the Dentist?

Keeping your teeth healthy with regular dental visits is important. When teeth start to have problems, they can impact life quickly. But what are “regular” dental visits? How often are people supposed to go?

Catching a dental problem early may help reduce the amount of pain, difficulty, and cost to fix the problem. Dentists can also look for signs of oral cancers, and spot signs of other health conditions, such as Sjögren’s syndrome or diabetes.

Dental Visits for Kids

Kids should get their first oral exam as soon as their first tooth comes in or by their first birthday. The dentist will give you advice about how to care for your child’s early teeth. As your child gets older, he or she should have dental checkups as often as the dentist advises. Most dentists recommend a dental visit every six months and sometimes more frequently to help prevent cavities and other problems. Talk with your child’s dentist about the schedule that is best for your child.

Dental Visits for Adults

Your dentist can advise you how often you need to visit based on your oral and general health and your risk factors for tooth decay and gum disease. For example, someone with a lot of tartar, cavities or systemic diseases may need to come more often than twice a year.

You may need to see your dentist more often if:

  • You’re pregnant. Pregnancy hormones can cause an inflammation of the gums called gingivitis, and other problems.
  • You smoke. Tobacco use is a risk factor for a severe gum disease called periodontitis and for oral cancer.
  • You’re being treated for cancer. Treatment for cancer can cause oral health problems such as dry mouth and infection.
  • You have diabetes. People with diabetes have a higher risk of gum disease, fungal infections, and other oral problems.
  • You have heart disease. Dental health is linked to heart health, and frequent dental cleanings may reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke.
  • You’re HIV positive. HIV and its treatment put you at a higher risk of dental decay and infections.
Time to Call the Dentist…

In addition to regular checkups, see your dentist if:

  • You have tooth or gum pain that doesn’t go away or gets worse
  • Your gums are red, swollen, and bleed easily
  • You have a sore in your mouth that doesn’t heal
  • A tooth becomes sensitive to hot, cold, or pressure
  • Something is wrong with an old dental restoration
  • You lose a filling
  • You have dry mouth on a daily basis
  • You have pain or clicking noises in your jaw


Frequently Asked Questions. American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. Accessed 2013.
Questions About Going to the Dentist. Accessed 2013.
How often should we go to the dentist? Elizabeth J Kay. BMJ. 1999 July 24; 319(7204): 204–205. Accessed 2013.
Pregnancy Concerns. ADA. Accessed 2013.
Gum Disease Risk Factors. American Academy of Periodontology. 2013.
Periodontal (Gum) Disease: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. August 2012. 2013.                                     
Cancer Treatment and Oral Health. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. July 18, 2013. Accessed 2013.
Chemotherapy and Your Mouth. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. August 2012. Accessed 2013.
Diabetes and Oral Health Problems. American Diabetes Association. Accessed 2013.
Diabetes and oral health. J Amer Dent Assoc , 2002 September, vol133, page 1299. Accessed 2013.
Professional dental cleanings may reduce risk of heart attack, stroke. American Heart Association, November 13, 2011. Accessed 2013.
Relationship Between Periodontal Disease, Tooth Loss, and Carotid Artery Plaque. Stroke, 2003; vol34, pages 2120-2125. Accessed 2013.
Oral Health and HIV. The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Accessed 2013.
Mouth Problems and HIV. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.  July 18, 2013. Accessed 2013.
Oral Health Issues. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, October 17, 2012. Accessed 2013.