You've heard is as long as you can remember: you need to see the dentist every six months. As a child you may have thought that was one too many. You may still think that seeing the dentist more than once a year is excessive.

Most patients can get by with going to the dentist twice a year. Some patients, however, need to see the dentist more often.

Your dentist will be able to determine how often you should schedule an appointment.

Patients who are considered to have a higher risk of tooth or gum disease or develop dental health complications will likely be advised to see their dentist on a more frequent basis. Common risk factors that put patients into the high-risk classification include:

  • Smokers. Tobacco use has long been linked to cause lung and throat cancer. It also increases an individual's risk of getting oral, or mouth cancer. Oral cancer is often fatal if not treated early. Patients who smoke will often be recommended to see their dentist more frequently so the dentist can better monitor for initial signs of oral cancer. This early detection will allow the dentist to promptly treat it, possibly saving the patient's life.
  • Pregnant women. There are myths out there saying pregnant women should limit their dental visits, if not avoid going to the dentist absolutely. This would be a bad mistake that could put the mother's dental and overall health at risk as well as that of her child.

During pregnancy, the change in hormones, especially the processing and absorption of calcium, can weak both teeth and the jaw bone. Weakened, less stable teeth can open the opportunity for tooth decay and gum disease.

  • Diabetics. Patients with diabetes can not properly process sugar in the blood, resulting in high blood sugar levels. The body's ability to keep blood sugar levels normal increases one's risk of oral infection and slows the healing process. Gum disease is the most common dental issue experienced by diabetics. Diabetics can reduce their risk of gum disease and other oral infections by visiting the dentist more than twice a year.
  • People with current gum disease. Gum disease can quickly progress into periodontitis if not treated and aggressive preventive steps are not taken. Gum disease can be easily treated if done early. Frequent visits to the dentist will ensure the necessary pre-emptive treatment will be undertaken to stop the progress of a patient's gum disease.
  • Patients with a weak immune response to bacterial infection. Cavities and gum disease are the results of plaque build-up on the teeth. Plaque is the byproduct of bacteria and germs from decaying food particles stuck on and between teeth. Patients with weakened immune systems or weak immune responses are not able to fight and prevent the build-up of plaque as healthy patients can. Seeing a dentist more than twice a year gives these patients the extra help they need to keep their mouths clean and healthy as well as reduce the build-up of plaque.
  • Patients who tend to get cavities or build up plaque. Some patients are more prone to plaque build-up and cavities such as those with crooked or chipped teeth and those who wear retainers and braces. Some patients regularly eat a poor diet, have sleep apnea or have Bruxism which lies down the enamel of teeth, making them more susceptible to cavities.

If you suffer from a chronic, undering medical condition, are a smoker, are pregnant or are sooner to cavities, it is likely your dentist will encourage you to get more frequent check-ups than the standard twice-yearly check-up .