You brush. You floss. Do you really need to see a professional for a dental cleaning? No matter how conscientious you are about your oral hygiene routine, the answer is a resounding yes. Seeing a dentist at least twice a year for a cleaning and wellness exam is an easy way to keep your teeth healthy, and the benefits extend beyond your smile.
Why Are Dental Cleanings Important?
Poor oral health doesn’t just damage your smile; it puts your overall health at risk as well. The bacteria that causes periodontal disease can travel into the rest of the body and cause trouble. If left untreated, it can even damage your arteries, which can increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, and other serious health issues. Regular dental cleanings safeguard your smile and your health by removing troublesome plaque and bacteria. They also give your dentist an opportunity to catch any problems with your bite, gums, or teeth early. Since fixing a small issue is generally less expensive than correcting a large one, identifying and addressing potential problems early can save you a substantial amount of money as well.
What Does a Dental Cleaning Involve?
Plaque is a soft, sticky, colorless biofilm made up of millions of bacteria. The primary cause of cavities and gum disease, it constantly forms on teeth. If plaque is not cleaned off daily, it hardens into tartar: an ugly, yellow buildup that only a dentist or hygienist can remove. Unfortunately, no matter how diligently you brush and floss at home, you probably won’t manage to remove all of the plaque buildup that accumulates on your teeth. That is why professional cleanings are so important. Dental cleanings generally include the following:
- Diagnostic Services: A dental professional will review and update your medical history, evaluate your bite and your gums, check your chewing and swallowing patterns, screen for oral cancer, and look for signs of tooth decay. X-rays may also be taken.
- Preventative Services: To help keep your teeth clean and healthy, a hygienist will remove plaque and tartar from your teeth, work to clear away any unsightly stains, and polish your teeth. A fluoride treatment might also be applied.
- Educational Services: While cleaning your teeth, an evaluation of your self-care efforts will be made. If necessary, your dentist or hygienist will gently advise you about how to improve your oral health routine. You will also be given information about the health of your teeth and recommendations for future treatments, if necessary.
Caring for Your Teeth Between Dental Cleanings
Many people enjoy the fresh, clean sensation that results from a professional dental cleaning. How can you make that feeling last? Between dental cleanings, follow these three tips:
- Keep your teeth clean by following a good oral hygiene routine. Use either a manual or electric toothbrush and a nonabrasive toothpaste to brush your teeth at least twice a day. Clear away particles trapped between your teeth by flossing at least once a day. For best results, you should brush and floss after every meal. It is also a good practice to rinse your mouth at least once a day with an antiseptic mouthwash.
- Keep your smile bright and stain-free by avoiding smoking and limiting foods that are known to discolor teeth, like coffee, dark sodas, red wine, tea, berries, and soy sauce.
- Protect your teeth from damage. If you grind your teeth when you sleep, wear an occlusal guard consistently. If you enjoy contact sports, wear a mouth guard while playing. In addition, it is best to avoid chewing on extremely hard materials like ice, pens, bones, and nails.
Scheduling Dental Cleanings
How often should you visit your dentist for a cleaning and wellness exam? For most people, every six months is ideal. However, certain people have a higher risk of dental problems and should be seen more frequently. Smokers, people with diabetes, and people who are prone to cavities or excessive plaque should talk with their dentist about the optimum timing for their checkups.
Do you have more questions about dental care or oral hygiene? Are you ready to visit a dentist for a dental cleaning? Contact Duff Family Dental today to arrange an appointment.