The Importance of Regular Dental Cleanings
Have you seen a hygienist recently? If it has been a while, you are missing an easy trick to keeping your teeth and gums in great shape. Your regular dental cleanings form an essential part of your preventative dental care plan.
Why Are Regular Dental Cleanings Crucial for Good Dental Health?
The primary reason for having your teeth cleaned professionally is to help avoid the problem of gum disease. Did you know that more than 85% of adults in the United States have some degree of gum disease? It’s a serious condition that is the main reason for tooth loss worldwide, and even worse, it’s been linked to other systemic diseases.
What Is Gum Disease?
Gum disease is a bacterial infection that develops when your oral hygiene isn’t quite as good as it should be. Every day a sticky plaque biofilm containing bacteria builds up over your tooth surfaces. Most plaque is removed when you brush and floss your teeth regularly. Any that remains on your teeth quickly hardens into tartar or calculus, the hard substance that must be scaled or scraped away from your teeth during a dental cleaning. The bacteria in plaque and calculus use food debris as an energy source, creating toxins and acids as a by-product, infecting your gums. One of the first symptoms of gum disease is bleeding gums, but your gums may also begin to look red or swollen and may feel tender to touch. When the infection progresses, it can cause other unpleasant symptoms such as bad breath, or you might notice a nasty taste in your mouth.
Your body’s immune system tries to fight the infection, but this causes inflammation in your gums, eventually destroying them and causing gum recession. As the infection worsens, it progresses into advanced periodontal disease, a condition that not only destroys your gums but also affects the other structures around your teeth including bone and the ligaments holding your teeth in their sockets. Eventually, teeth loosen and cannot be saved.
How Is Gum Disease Linked to Other Serious Systemic Diseases?
Numerous clinical studies have linked advanced gum disease or periodontal disease with several severe systemic diseases, including heart disease and diabetes. The exact link between them isn’t yet fully understood, but what is known is that bacteria from your mouth can enter your bloodstream through bleeding gums. Once in your blood, they can travel anywhere in your body, creating new sites of infection and inflammation. It seems as if these bacteria make it harder for diabetics to control blood sugar levels, and when diabetes isn’t adequately controlled it increases the amount of glucose in saliva, providing the perfect fuel for plaque bacteria. People with cardiac problems often need to have their dental health assessed before receiving treatment to make sure they don’t have signs of gum disease. If you want a healthy body, you really need to look after your dental health too!
What Happens during a Regular Dental Cleaning?
During your regular dental cleaning, your hygienist will carefully check the condition of your mouth before using specialized tools to scrape or scale away any calculus. Afterward, your hygienist will carefully polish your teeth leaving them beautifully smooth. Not only do smoother teeth feel nice, but the smooth surfaces make it harder for plaque bacteria to adhere. Your hygienist may also assess your gum health, taking precise measurements of the space in between your gums and your teeth and which are compared at each visit. Continually monitoring your gum health helps to identify any potential problems, so the appropriate treatment is provided that much sooner.
How Do Regular Dental Cleanings Help Fight Gum Disease?
When your teeth are cleaned professionally, all plaque and tartar are removed from your tooth surfaces, getting rid of the source of infection. If you clean your teeth reasonably effectively and floss daily, then regularly removing this build-up is usually all that’s needed to keep your teeth and gums healthy and strong. Even if you have an excellent dental cleaning routine, it’s all too easy to miss out on certain areas, so there is always some calculus to be removed!
Also, your regular dental cleanings help to detect any early signs of periodontal disease, a condition called gingivitis. If you have recently noticed your gums slightly bleeding when you brush or floss, it could be the first symptom of gingivitis rather than brushing your teeth too hard. Your gums will find it much easier to fight gingivitis when your teeth have been professionally cleaned. Here at Ivory Dental, our hygienists are also great at patient education!
Personalized Advice to Improve Your Brushing and Flossing Routine
While cleaning your teeth professionally, your hygienist will identify any areas regularly missed while you brush and floss and can offer practical advice on how to improve your daily oral hygiene routine. Most of us are guilty of brushing our teeth without thinking about how we brush them. It can be incredibly useful to have a quick demonstration on how to brush more effectively, or perhaps receive some advice on which tools to choose. It is particularly worthwhile seeking help if you fail to floss regularly. Flossing is much easier when you know the correct technique, or you might want to try using other tools such as interdental pics or perhaps a water pik.
How Frequently Should I Have My Teeth Cleaned?
Most people with reasonable dental health benefit from having their teeth professionally cleaned twice a year, usually at the same time as seeing the dentist. People who are currently experiencing some dental problems such as gum disease, or who have medical problems affecting their immune system may need to see a hygienist more frequently. The frequency of your hygiene visits is determined during your initial appointment with Dr. Benjamin Hull. Ivory Dental also provides laser therapy for advanced periodontal disease.
Laser Therapy for More Advanced Gum Disease
More advanced periodontal disease is frequently chronic, requiring regular treatment to control the infection. Our dental office is equipped with a state-of-the-art dental laser that helps to eliminate disease-causing bacteria more effectively and comfortably. A dental laser can penetrate the deep pockets created by advanced gum disease as the gums pull away from the teeth and the laser energy helps to destroy greater numbers of bacteria. If you have severe periodontal disease, we will refer you to a periodontist who has advanced training in gum tissue health.