There's a common misperception that dental care is a luxury, and it's time to set the record straight. Regular dental exams (aka "dental checkups") are just like regular medical exams and physicals - both are preventive measures to help you stay healthy in the long run. What's more, your oral health and overall health are inextricably intertwined: Gum disease has been linked to diabetes, pregnancy has been linked to tooth loss and stress may cause TMJ, dry mouth syndrome and other dental problems.
The best way, if not the only way, to protect yourself against dental health disasters is to stay on top of your dental exams/dental checkups. The ADA recommends a checkup at least once every six months.