You may need to see him more often if you have a dental problem that needs follow-up treatment or long-term care, but generally, most people see their dentists twice a year for a checkup, or the odd filling or root-canal treatment.
The reason it's important to see your dentist regularly every six months is to identify and diagnose problems at an early stage.
Teeth do not heal in the way that injured skin does, for example, so if you have a problem, only your dentist can identify it and treat it, as it will not clear up by itself.
Any damage to your teeth or gums is irreversible, so it's vital you get expert help.
Unless you've been going to the same person for many years, finding a dentist is not easy, particularly if you move to a new town or your dentist has retired.
In these cases you will need to find someone who delivers both quality oral healthcare, and with whom you have a good rapport.
Choosing A Dentist If you consult your dentist regularly, then it's probably someone you've been seeing for a long time and trust completely to take good care of your oral health.
If you have been avoiding the dentist for many years, however, or have recently moved to a new town, you may find yourself in a position where you know you need to find a suitable dentist, but do not have a clue as to how to choose this particular person.
Rather than picking someone at random, it's best in this situation to speak to friends and to get a referral from someone you trust, preferably someone who feels the same way you do about going to the dentist.
Your doctor, or even a dental specialist, may also be a good place to find out about a reputable dentist in your area.
Dental specialists such as orthodontists and maxillo-facial surgeons deal with dentists on a daily basis, and know who's doing a good job, and who is not.
Before you book your appointment and seat yourself in the dentist's chair, ensure you have chatted to the person concerned, and communicated any expectations and fears you might have.
You should feel completely comfortable asking whatever questions you may have about your treatment.
Having this chat is important, as you will be able to determine whether or not you are likely to have a rapport with the dentist you've chosen, and are comfortable with his or her philosophy of treatment.
Also discuss costs: you need to ensure, firstly, that your new dentist understands what your budgetary constraints are, and secondly, that the services offered match the price being charged.
Most countries have a dental association or society of some sort that will be able to advise you on standard rates for common procedures.
You also need to ensure that the dentist is scrupulous about sterile working conditions.
Gloves and masks are a must, both for the dentist's protection and yours, and don't be afraid to ask how frequently his tools and instruments are sterilized.
You need to be sure that your health is safeguarded at all times.
You should also ascertain whether or not an emergency service exists.
While dental emergencies rarely happen, they are certainly a possibility, and a dentist who has an emergency service as a backup, or has at least considered what his plan of action would be in case of an emergency, is a good choice.
Finally, watch those leaving the consulting room for an idea of your dentist's skill: the expressions on their faces can be a good indicator of what to expect in the consultation!