Cochrane Oral Health Group's Trials Register, CENTRAL, Medline via OVID and EMBASE via OVID to 27 Sept 2013; ongoing trials were searched for, reference lists from relevant articles searched and some authors contacted for additional information. There were no restrictions on language or date of publication.
Randomised controlled trials (RCTS) assessing the effects of different recall intervals.
Data extraction and synthesis
Two review authors independently assessed the studies for inclusion, extracted data and carried out risk of bias assessment.
Only one study involving 185 participants (adults and children) was included. It compared clinical examination at 12 months with one at 24 months for caries increments (dmfs/DMFS) and economic cost outcomes (total time used per person).
For caries as an outcome, in three- to five-year olds, the mean difference in dmfs increment was −0.90 (95% CI −1.96 to 0.16) and in 16- to 20-year olds, the mean difference in DMFS increment was −0.86 (95% CI −1.75 to 0.03) both in favour of a 12-month recall interval.
For time/cost outcomes, in three- to five-year-olds the mean difference in time per participant was ten minutes (95% CI −6.7 to 26.7) and in 16 to 20-year olds it was 23.7 minutes (95% CI 4.12 to 43.28), again both in favour of 12-month recall interval.
The study was assessed at high risk of bias and contained insufficient evidence to determine whether 12- or 24-month recall with clinical examination results in improved caries or time/cost outcomes.
There is a very low quality body of evidence from a single RCT. This was insufficient for drawing any conclusions about the potential beneficial and harmful effects of different dental check-up recall intervals. There is no evidence to support or refute practice of six-monthly intervals. High-quality RCTs are needed to address the question of optimum dental check-up recall intervals.
There is insufficient evidence to support or refute the need for six-monthly dental check-ups.
About this article
This paper is based on a Cochrane Review published in the Cochrane Library 2013, issue 12 (see www.thecochranelibrary.com for information). Cochrane Reviews are regularly updated as new evidence emerges and in response to feedback, and the Cochrane Library should be consulted for the most recent version of the review.