Importance of Dental Cleanings
The importance of dental cleanings is demonstrated by the many health problems they can help you to avoid.
Dental cleanings not only reduce the risk of cavities, gum disease and loss of jaw bone but also help to keep the rest of your body in good health. The mouth is a breeding ground for bacteria that can cause infection and inflammation, which can spread to vital organs.
Besides health benefits, your stain-free, newly-polished teeth will leave your mouth and breath feeling amazingly fresh and give you a sparkling smile.
One of the main aims of professional teeth-cleaning is to get rid of plaque. Even with regular brushing and flossing, plaque can still build up on your teeth.
Plaque is a sticky film that develops as saliva mixes with food debris. It contains millions of bacteria that secrete acids and toxic substances. If plaque hardens into tartar (calculus), it can only be removed by a dental professional.
The immediate threat from accumulations of bacterial plaque and tartar is gum disease and erosion of tooth enamel leading to cavities. However, dental issues – particularly gum disease (periodontitis or periodontal disease) – have also been associated with serious medical complications.
A heavy build-up of plaque will prompt your immune system into working overtime to fight the infection. This can cause excessive, long-term inflammation – the hallmark of systemic disorders and diseases that can affect your whole body.
Complications That Dental Cleanings Can Help to Avoid
Dental cleanings help to keep your gums in good condition as well as your teeth. Ongoing research indicates a link between gum disease and other medical complaints you may think are unrelated.
Gum disease has long been recognized as a major cause of tooth loss, but a strong body of evidence also suggests a connection between periodontal problems and overall health.
Researchers believe there may be a link between gum disease and potentially life-threatening medical conditions such as:
- Lung infections.
- Heart disease.
- Increased risk of cancer.
- Brain disorders.
Monitoring Your Oral Health
A dental cleaning is usually incorporated within regular dental check-ups, and these two measures are the backbone of preventive dentistry, which emphasizes the importance of avoiding or minimizing problems.
A professional cleaning/dental exam gives your dentist or dental hygienist the opportunity to look for signs of enamel erosion, tooth decay, gum disease, and oral cancer. In many cases, you may not notice symptoms like these until they become serious. For instance, the initial stages of gum disease are often painless.
The American Dental Association1 (ADA) recommends you see your dentist every six months for a check-up and professional cleaning.
What Happens During a Dental Cleaning?
A dental cleaning typically takes 30 minutes to an hour. Most patients find the procedure painless and report no discomfort from the pressure of scraping or mild vibrations they feel.
With the help of a dental mirror, dental hygienists and dentists use specialized instruments to carefully remove deposits of plaque and tartar without damaging the teeth.
An ultrasonic device emitting gentle vibrations is used to loosen larger pieces of tartar while spraying a cooling mist of water to flush away loose debris.
Smaller deposits on the teeth can be removed with hand-held instruments known as scalers or curettes, which are also designed to smooth the tooth surfaces.
The final step in the dental cleaning process is polishing your teeth with a slow-speed instrument to create a shiny surface.
After the cleaning process, fluoride may be applied directly to the teeth to strengthen enamel and provide an extra defense against cavities.
What is Dental Scaling?
Scaling2 is a specialized form of dental cleaning that removes plaque from beneath the gum line. This deep cleaning is routinely used in cases of gum disease when deep pockets have developed between the teeth and gums.
Scaling can be performed with regular scraping instruments or with the help of ultrasonic technology, or a combination of both methods.
Scaling is generally followed by root planing to smooth the root surface of teeth to help prevent further bacterial colonization.
Scaling and root planing are typically followed by a program of periodontal maintenance to preserve gum and jaw bone health.
Importance of Good Oral Hygiene
To get the full benefits from a dental cleaning, it’s important to maintain a good routine of oral healthcare at home.
- Brushing your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste.
- Flossing daily to remove food particles trapped between your teeth.
What you eat also plays an important role in your oral health. Try to limit acidic or sugary foods and drinks and eat plenty of fruit and vegetables instead. Foods rich in vitamin C – such as leafy greens like broccoli and kale – can help to prevent gum infections.
Why You Need to Maintain Regular Dental Cleanings
Dental cleanings are important for children, helping to lay the foundation for healthy gums and teeth for the rest of their life – before colonies of bacteria have had the chance to develop.
However, professional teeth cleaning is equally important throughout your adult life to help combat the everyday wear and tear that teeth have to endure and which can put a strain on our dental health.
With people in the U.S. now generally living longer, it makes sense to pay careful attention to our teeth and gums as we get older, and the importance of dental cleanings increases with aging.
Health experts at Harvard Medical School3 emphasize that greater oral care is needed to keep your teeth and gums in good condition in later years.
Regular dental cleanings and check-ups are key to helping prevent cavities and tooth loss among adults. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in five people aged 65 or over has lost all their teeth.
Factors associated with getting older make us more vulnerable to dental health problems. The risk of complications from dental issues also increases with age, and dental cleanings can minimize the risk of diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular problems.
Carry on Smiling!
Whatever your age, the importance of dental cleanings should never be overlooked. They can help to keep you smiling with confidence as the optimum health of your teeth and gums is maintained.
Dental cleanings may also provide a financial benefit by lessening the need for expensive treatments in the future.