Perhaps you do a great job at caring for your teeth. You always brush your teeth at least twice daily, you floss, brush your tongue, and you even use a good antibacterial mouthwash. Maybe you even eat a very healthy diet, avoiding foods and drinks that contain a lot of sugar. Since you take such great care of your teeth, do you really need to head into the dentist’s office for those bi-annual dental cleanings?
The answer – yes! Twice yearly dental cleanings are an important part of preventive dental care that will keep teeth protected and healthy today and in the future. Even if you’re rigorous about taking care of your teeth, plaque and tartar is still quite common, so don’t skip those routine dental cleanings.
The Importance of Bi-Annual Cleanings
Why are bi-annual cleanings so important? Here’s a look at some of the important reasons you need to stick with those dental cleanings twice a year.
Brushing and flossing your teeth is important, but unfortunately, it doesn’t get all the plaque and tartar that end up on your teeth. Bacteria naturally lives within the mouth, and the plaque that collects on the gums and teeth is produced by the bacteria already living in your mouth. Since that bacteria feeds on sugars, leaving any food particles behind on your teeth feed the bacteria, which can lead to even more plaque growth. Plaque is acidic and can damage tooth enamel, and if plaque stays on your teeth too long, it can form tartar, a hardened type of plaque that’s also acidic. Both plaque and tartar can damage tooth enamel, making teeth more susceptible to decay.
When you brush and floss, it does help to remove food from the mouth and also helps to remove plaque. In many cases, it’s tough to remove plaque by brushing alone, although flossing can help. Tartar, the hardened plaque, cannot be removed by brushing or flossing, so to have the tartar removed, you’ll need to have a professional dental cleaning. If you don’t have those dental cleanings twice a year, small pockets of tartar and plaque can build up, and eventually they can result in infections within the gums and teeth.
Even when you’re doing a great job at brushing and flossing regularly at home, there are just some spots in the mouth that are tough to reach, such as between your teeth and in the back of the mouth. These areas are more prone to plaque and tartar buildup. Fail to get those regular cleanings and you may deal with enamel erosion and gum inflammation from the tartar and plaque buildup, and the longer you let these problems go, the worse they can become. Inflammation to the gums can turn into gingivitis, which may lead to the development of advanced periodontitis, a gum infection that can cause bone loss and gum recession, resulting in tooth loss.
Many patients don’t realize that gum disease and damage to tooth enamel can affect overall health as well. When cavities become infected, it’s possible for bacteria to enter the bloodstream, increasing the risk of stroke and heart attack. Gum disease has also been found to increase the risk for certain health conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, dementia, and high blood pressure.
What to Expect at Your Dental Cleaning
When you head in for one of those twice yearly cleanings, you can expect a routine examination and a cleaning. During your cleaning a hygienist or dentist will remove tartar and plaque buildup from the teeth, and then polish teeth using a paste to help remove additional plaque and stains. Flossing is often included with this cleaning. Your dentist will examine the teeth to look for any potential problems, such as tooth grinding, cavities, gum disease, and other common issues.
If it’s time for you to have a regular cleaning, make sure you call your dentist today. Set up your cleaning and routine exam to make sure you keep your teeth and gums healthy.