Dental check-ups

How often you may need a check-up, and what to expect when you visit your dentist.

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.

Your dentist will suggest when you should have your next check-up based on how good your oral health is.

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.

Why do I need a dental check-up?

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. 

What happens during a dental check-up?

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 a date for your next visit.

How often should I have a dental check-up?

After your check-up, your dentist will recommend a date for your next visit. The time to your next check-up could be as short as three months or as long as two years (or up to one year if you're under 18).

Generally, the lower your risk of dental problems, the longer you can wait before your next check-up. So people with good oral health will probably need to attend only once every 12 to 24 months, but those with more problems will need check-ups more often.

What about dental treatments?

This advice is about routine check-ups only. You may have other appointments for dental treatments such as fillings, teeth cleaning (scale and polish), having a tooth taken out or emergency treatment.

If you have problems with your teeth between check-ups, contact your dental surgery to make an earlier appointment. In an emergency outside normal working hours, contact your surgery on its usual number and you will be told how to access emergency dental care.

Find an NHS dentist.

Common dental Q&As

Read the answers to the most common questions about NHS dentists and dental charges.

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