Routine check-ups that include an oral exam, digital x-rays as needed, and cleaning are the best way to stay on top of your dental health. If you have excellent teeth and gums, you may do very well being seen once a year. Serious gum disease patients may neeed to visit every 3 months.
X-rays--Some patients refuse x-rays for a variety of reason, mostly cost and radiation exposure. We have a very conservative policy regarding frequency of radiographs. We tailor the decision to take x-rays to your particular situation and strive to never take an unnecessary x-ray.
As for cost? Many times, an $20 x-ray shows a cavity fixable with a $100 filling, thus avoiding a $2400 root canal/foundation/crown.
Check out the big dark spot in the middle tooth in the upper half of the x-ray. Big cavity! The big white blobs? Those are metal fillings.