3 dental services you must complete at least once a year

3 dental services you must complete at least once a year

Feb 1, 2024

In a 2018 survey conducted by the American Dental Association, 42% of people polled admitted it had been a year or more since their last visit to the dentist. Honestly, we get it, life is busy. But lack of time isn't the only reason people skip their regular dentist visits; Some people fear the dentist, some face barriers to accessing dental care such as high costs, and some people believe that unless they are experiencing some type of issue, they simply don't need to go. That couldn't be further from the truth. Preventative visits are imperative to keeping a healthy smile and avoiding serious and even life-threatening health conditions that extend beyond your mouth. Avoiding the dentist can have severe consequences.

Staying on top of your oral health requires regular visits to the dentist. But how often should you be visiting the dentist? And which are the routine services that will help you catch issues early and help to avoid costly and painful procedures? We've got the answers below.

How often should I visit the dentist?

How often you should visit the dentist will depend on your oral health situation. Those with lower risk and/or less history of oral illness can wait a little longer. At the least, every person should visit the dentist at least once per year. If you are a person with a history of, or at greater risk for oral health issues, we recommend seeing the dentist every 4 to 6 months. The services that you will need to have completed also depend on your own oral health needs. However, we recommend that every person, regardless of individual needs, complete the following three preventative services at least once per year.

Which dental services do I need?


Regular oral exams are critical to maintaining good oral health and identifying any dental concerns before they become costly emergencies. Your dentist will perform a physical check-up where they assess the health of your teeth and gums to spot any signs of tooth decay or gum disease. They will also evaluate the state of any previous dental work like crowns or fillings to make sure there are no cracks and they are in good shape.


There are many different types of radiography used in dentistry which are categorized as intraoral, meaning they are taken with the film inside of the mouth, or extraoral, which are taken from outside of the mouth. Below are 6 common dental X-rays:

  1. Bitewing X-Ray

    Bitewings are intraoral X-rays, commonly taken during routine dental visits for preventative purposes and also commonly used to identify the source of tooth pain or discomfort. They show the upper and lower teeth, as well as just below the gumline in one area of the mouth. Usually, the root is not visible and other types of X-rays may be required for a deeper look.

  2. Periapical X-Ray

    Periapical X-rays are great for a deeper look at the entire tooth from the crown to the root and a little into the surrounding jaw. Dentists use these X-rays to detect tooth decay, bone erosion, and gum disease. These X-rays are typically ordered when a bitewing doesn't offer a complete picture and they suspect damage to the root tip or jawbone.

  3. Panoramic X-Ray

    A panoramic X-ray takes a 2-dimensional photo of the entirety of the upper and lower teeth, ear to ear. It shows the full picture of the state of the patient's teeth and for this reason, it is a common radiograph for routine visits and in preparation for any dental work. It is also commonly used to check the status and positioning of the wisdom teeth.

  4. Occlusal X-Ray

    An occlusal X-Ray looks at the roof and floor of the mouth. They are used to see dental development and tooth placement, as well as to identify any broken or impacted teeth, cleft palate, cysts, abscesses, growths, and jaw fractures. These X-rays are usually only taken when there are issues and rarely will be ordered during routine visits.

  5. Cephalometric X-Ray

    A cephalometric X-ray is a less common X-ray which takes a picture of one-half of the entire head. They are used to see the teeth, jaw, and cheekbones' positions, allowing the doctor to build an all-encompassing care plan for patients receiving orthodontic treatment. These X-rays can also be ordered to diagnose and understand the cause of sleep apnea to determine if dental intervention can help.

  6. Cone Beam CT Scan

    A cone beam CT scan, commonly referred to as a CBCT, takes a 3-dimensional image to show every aspect of the teeth and surrounding bones. These X-rays are not the same as a regular CT scan as they don't see as much detail of the soft tissue like muscles and nerves as is shown in conventional CTs. CBCTs are used in treatment planning for orthodontics and dental implants as well as to identify complicated oral issues like TMJ.

X-Rays are a safe and effective way for dentists to diagnose and build treatment plans for common and complex oral health conditions. They are also a necessary part of preventative and routine dental care to catch issues before they arise and expose what may be difficult to see with the naked eye.


Routine dental cleanings are an essential practice for healthy teeth and gums and imperative to prevent serious oral health conditions like tooth decay, gum disease, and even tooth loss. While regular brushing and flossing are generally effective in keeping your teeth clean on a surface level, a dental cleaning uses special professional tooths to get deep between each tooth and remove plaque and tartar that your toothbrush simply cannot reach. A regular dental cleaning usually consists of the following two services:


Here at snapsmile we know that barriers to accessing oral healthcare are abundant. Care can be expensive, and even where insurance is available, coverage could be insufficient. For those who live in rural areas or don't have transportation, simply arriving at an appointment can be a challenge.

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