Over half of Americans go to the dentist once every six months according to the American Dental Association and many view the “go to the dentist twice a year” mantra as written in stone. This mantra, however, originates from a comic book written over 150 years ago titled The Toothache – a time when dental hygiene and care was not even close to today’s standards. So the question is do you really need to visit your dentist that often for check-ups? According to a report at Smart Money, you may not:
“A six-month checkup means everybody has the same risk for disease, and that doesn’t make very much sense,” says Douglas Benn, oral and maxillofacial radiologist and professor emeritus at the University of Florida. “If you look at the typical middle-class population, the majority are not at high risk for lots of decay and gum disease; they probably don’t need to be seen every six months.” A number of studies support Benn’s view, finding no appreciable benefit from biannual visits for all patients.“
If you have full dental insurance that already pays for visits to the dentist every six months, then it makes sense to continue to get your twice a year check-up. If you have regular dental problems, it also makes sense to continue to go at least every six months. If, however, you get glowing marks every time you see the dentist and take wonderful care of your teeth and gums on your own, then it makes sense to at least discuss with your dentist how often you need to come in for a check-up. This is especially true if you have a large dental deductible, co-pay or don’t have any dental insurance at all (only 55% of Americans do have dental insurance).
Be honest with your dentist and explain the situation that you are paying a lot of the money for treatment and check-ups out of your own pocket. If you have a high risk factor for dental disease and need to see the dentist every six months, they will let you know and you should follow their advice. Trying to save money by not getting regular check-ups will mean much more money in dental work down the road. If you are a low risk candidate for dental disease, however, you may be surprised that your dentist says coming in every 9 months or every year for a check-up is acceptable.
Another benefit of discussing this with your dentist is even if you do have to continue the current six month check-up, you may receive a discount over the regular priced treatments. Many dentists are more than happy to offer a discount of 10% or more to patients that pay for their dental care up-front so the dentist doesn’t have to deal with an insurance company. Many also offer lower rates to those paying for care out of their own pocket. It doesn’t hurt to ask and you may find that you don’t need to spend as much as you have been at the dentist.