It is generally recommended that you visit your dentist for a checkup and cleaning every six months. These visits are an opportunity to ensure that your teeth and gums are healthy, and for your hygienist to perform a comprehensive cleaning of your mouth. These trips also enable your dentist to detect problems before uncomfortable symptoms begin. A cavity caught in its early stages can be remedied with simpler treatment. Even serious conditions, like oral cancer, can be easier to successfully treat when they are identified in early stages.
When you keep up with brushing and flossing at home, and regularly visit your dentist, you significantly lower the odds you will need any sort of restorative treatment on your teeth. However, if you do develop a cavity, your dentist can identify it during a routine appointment, even if you have not developed symptoms. Typically, a cavity caught early will only have affected your enamel, and your tooth can be restored with a filling. If you only visit the dentist when something is wrong, you may let a cavity go unaddressed until it has infected your pulp, and requires more invasive treatment. To stop a cavity that is attacking the living tissue in your tooth, your dentist will need to perform a root canal.
Your dentist will inspect your mouth for any problems during a routine visit. This means that every six months, you will receive a visual inspection to check for serious health issues, like oral cancer. Oral cancer is potentially fatal, and early detection and treatment can increase your odds for a successful recovery.