When should I have my next NHS dental check-up?

NHS guidelines for Dentists and Patients on when should my next dental check-up be?

If you have been used to regular check-ups every 6 months, you may find this changes. The gap could be longer or shorter than this, depending on how healthy your teeth and gums are and your risk of future problems.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has published guidance to help dentists decide how often each patient needs a check-up.

Why is a check-up important?

It lets the dentist see if you have any dental problems and helps you keep your mouth healthy. It is best to prevent problems or treat them early on leaving them could mean that treatment is more difficult in the future.

What happens at each check-up?

At each check-up your dentist should:

examine your teeth, gums and mouth

ask about your general health and any problems youve had with your teeth, mouth or gums since your last visit

ask about and give you advice on your diet, tobacco and alcohol use, and teeth cleaning habits

discuss with you a date for your next visit.

How often should I come back for a check-up?

After your check-up, your dentist will recommend a date for your next visit, and discuss this with you.

The time to your next check-up could be as short as 3 months or as long as 2 years or up to 1 year if you are under 18.

Generally speaking, the lower your risk of dental problems, the longer the gap will be before your next check-up. This may vary at different times of your life depending on the condition of your teeth, gums and mouth or other changes in your health or lifestyle.

What about other treatments?

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

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

If you are not registered with an NHS dentist, you can call NHS Direct (0845 46 47) for advice on what to do.

Where can I find out more?

NHS guidelines for dentists and a patient fact sheet - The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has published guidance to help dentists decide how often each patient needs a check-up. For more information ask your dentist for the NICE patient fact sheet, or visit the NICE website (www.nice.org.uk/CG019). You can also get a copy of the fact sheet by telephoning NICE publications on 0845 003 7783 or emailing This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and quoting number N0737 for an English version.

Last Updated on Oct222013

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