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Q&A with Dr. Jeff: Do I really need to see my dentist twice a year?

Posted on September 7, 2023 in Healthy You


Did you know that all Delta Dental of Iowa dental plans cover two preventive dental visits a year at no out-of-pocket costs for members? It’s important to take full advantage of that benefit and see your dentist twice a year. Dr. Jeffrey Chaffin, Chief Dental Officer for Delta Dental of Iowa, explains why.

Q: Why is it important for people to schedule dental appointments twice a year?

Dr. Chaffin: Dental disease is largely preventable. The majority of diseases are cavities and gum disease. When we talk about preventing dental diseases, that is accomplished by one’s home self-care and professional prevention in the dental office.

Q: What are the potential consequences of avoiding regular dental check-ups and cleanings?

Dr. Chaffin: Delaying routine dental cleanings and check-ups can cause dental cavities and gum disease to progress without your knowledge. Often, when dental cavities and gum disease are diagnosed early, they can be reversed and/or treated with a minor procedure. If the disease progress continues, the treatment to “fix” the dental disease can be a more intense type of treatment that’s often more expensive as well.

Q: What preventive measures or treatments are performed during these twice-yearly dental visits to protect long-term oral health?

Dr. Chaffin: A dental examination is the first part of a preventive visit. During this exam, all the hard and soft tissues within and surrounding your mouth are examined. Dental professionals are looking for signs of cavities, gum disease, and oral cancer, just to name a few. As needed, x-rays are taken to aid this diagnosis. Based on the findings related to the health of your gums, the dentist will likely recommend a routine cleaning or a “deep cleaning” if you have advanced gum disease (called periodontal disease).

Additionally, based on your age and risk of developing cavities, professional fluoride applications may be recommended as well as dental sealants for recently erupted molars (teeth in the back of your mouth).

Q: Are there any specific age groups or demographics that benefit particularly from scheduling dental appointments twice a year? If so, why?

Dr. Chaffin: Dental prevention is important for everyone. Many don’t understand that even a baby should have dental visits, as cavities can start as soon as teeth erupt. The first dental visit should be by age 1, or 6 months after the eruption of the first tooth. Others may think that older individuals with dentures may not need to routinely see a dentist, but a dental visit is important to look for signs of things like oral cancer.

Q: What are the common misconceptions or excuses people have for not scheduling twice-yearly dental appointments, and how can we address them?

Dr. Chaffin: Many people get busy in their lives and fail to maintain their twice-a-year dental appointment. Others don’t understand the value of dental prevention. We need to help patients understand that these quick dental visits can save time and money down the road. We also need to ensure that patients understand that oral health is part of overall health.

Q: Are there any recent advancements in dental technology or treatments that further showcase the need for regular dental visits?

Dr. Chaffin: Some of the biggest advancements may be in dental x-rays. There are now 3-D dental images and software that can help dentists diagnose and develop treatment plans.