Objective: In 1995, the requirement to visit the dentist for a check-up every six months in The Netherlands was replaced by the obligation to get a routine examination no more than once a year. The aim of this study was to determine patients’ opinions about this change in policy, and to assess their preferences regarding frequency and content of regular dental check-up visits. Possible associations between patients’ preferences for regular dental check-ups and a number of antecedent variables, such as dental attitudes, were examined as well.
Basic research design: Patients’ preferences for regular dental check-ups were assessed by means of a questionnaire, containing a 19-item Likert-type scale, twelve visual analogue scales and seven forced choice items. Items assessing various background variables and a selection of items of the Dental Attitude Questionnaire were also added. This questionnaire was administered to patients of seven dental practices. A total of 428 patients completed the questionnaire.
Results: Results indicated that patients prefer to have regular dental check-ups. Patients’ evaluation of six-monthly dental check-up visits was significantly more positive than their evaluation of flexible, individualized, check-up frequencies. Factors positively associated with a higher preference for regular dental check-up visits were female gender, being more satisfied with one’s teeth, less cynicism toward dental health care professionals and more intrinsic motivation to maintain one’s oral health.
Conclusions: Patients seem to prefer to attend their dentist regularly, at fixed intervals of about six months. This fact should be taken into account when deciding about the most appropriate interval between dental examinations.