Cochrane Summaries

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Recall intervals for oral health in primary care patients

Riley P, Worthington HV, Clarkson JE, Beirne PV
Published Online: 
19 December 2013

Review question

The main question addressed by this review is: what is the optimal interval for dental check-ups (the time period between one dental check-up and the next)?


The effects on oral health and the economic impact of altering the recall interval between different types of dental check-ups are unclear. Primary care dental practitioners in many countries have traditionally recommended dental check-ups at six-monthly intervals.

Study characteristics

The Cochrane Oral Health Group carried out this review of existing studies, which includes evidence current up to 27 September 2013. This review includes one published study in which a total of 185 children and young adults were randomly chosen to have a clinical examination every 12 months or every 24 months. The study measured what effects the two different check-up times had on tooth decay and total time used per person (which could then be used to measure costs to the healthcare system).

Key results

The limited results did not enable a conclusion to be made about whether or not extending the time to the next dental check-up can reduce tooth decay or costs.

Quality of the evidence

The evidence presented is of very low quality due to there only being one study and issues with the way it was conducted.

This record should be cited as: 
Riley P, Worthington HV, Clarkson JE, Beirne PV. Recall intervals for oral health in primary care patients. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2013, Issue 12. Art. No.: CD004346. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD004346.pub4
Assessed as up to date: 
27 September 2013