When asked, people will often say they should visit their dentist every 6 months, even if they don’t actually do it themselves.
Dentists themselves will also generally recommend 6 monthly check-ups.
However, where did this 6 month time slot come from, and does it matter that much?
Recent research suggests that it makes no difference whether a patient visits the dental surgery every 6 or 12 months or more or less frequently.
What does matter however is that they do see their practitioners as regularly as possible – more so if treatment is desperately needed.
In 2003, researchers in the USA did try to determine whether timing slots had an effect on a person’s oral health.
The researchers found no significant difference between those who visited their dentist frequently (normally every 6 months) and the number of decayed teeth found, compared to patients who visited infrequently.
Similar findings were found when looking at gum diseases such as gingivitis.
Scientists did, however, find that leaving visits longer than 12 months can affect diagnosis of tumours.
Since oral cancer kills around 6,000 in the UK alone each year, then visiting more frequently for oral check-ups may be more valid if a patient is potentially at risk for developing mouth cancer.
The researchers concluded that those patients who are considered low risk for teeth and gum problems can feel safe in the knowledge that leaving any visit to the dentist for 12 – 18 months will be fine.
By contrast, those who are at a higher risk of oral health problems may benefit from keeping to the 6 monthly routine.