If I go for a cleaning twice a year, does the dentist have to examine me each time?

Examinations and X-rays are important tools a dentist uses to assess and maintain a patient’s oral health.

Exams must be done at least once a year by a dentist for patients being seen by a dental hygienist without the dentist present. State statute doesn’t dictate how often exams must be performed if the dentist is always present, but that is most likely because it is assumed that if the dentist is present he or she is performing examinations.

From a liability standpoint, a dentist should examine a patient on a “regular” basis. The WDA recommends dental offices set forth individual office policies on frequency of dental examinations.

Also, other factors may influence how often a dentist needs to examine a patient. For example, a dentist should conduct an exam before performing any clinical treatment, since an exam will help determine the proper course of treatment to be followed. In addition, patients may need to be seen more frequently if they have serious or ongoing oral health issues.