This is a very common and entirely reasonable question that patients ask when standing at the reception desk preparing to leave. The simple answer is ” as often as it takes to keep your mouth healthy”. This will be different for every patient who comes through the door and is almost entirely in their hands.
Any recall system needs to be based on clinical need and this is best determined by establishing a base line of health at the initial visit and then establishing a goal for treatment, which when achieved can then become the bench mark for health each time the patient comes in for review. So long as the bench mark is maintained then the dental health is good and the time in between visits can be increased or maintained depending on the individual patients preference. This is a long way from the conventional “come and see me every 6 months” being applied to every person, regardless of clinical need. There are lots of ways of establishing clinical need but a simple way that we use at StoneRock is to assess plaque scores to see how well the mouth is being cleaned and to measure how much inflammation in the gums their is. On top of this we look at risk factors such as reduced saliva flow, large existing restorations, previous decay activity and we can plan a maintenance schedule based around these findings. This schedule is not cast in stone and can be modified as and when factors change.
The NICE guidelines for dental reviews has been republished ( http://tinyurl.com/65b9bqo) and these underline the need for a varied approach such as the one we use. It should be remembered however that planning a strategy that caters for the whole country is a very broad brush to use and can never be used to answer the opening question on an individual basis. Only your dentist and hygienist can plan this with you, based on up to date information on the health of your mouth.