Though it’s common knowledge that regular visits to the dentist is a must to maintain good oral and dental health, a lot of us still fail to do so for various reasons. Many people think that as long as they brush and floss several times a day, their teeth and gums would be in great shape. But the fact is that no amount of brushing and flossing can replace professional dental cleaning when it comes to getting rid of plaque and tartar from your mouth.
Why is professional dental cleaning necessary?
Plaques are acidic, yellowish build-ups on the teeth. They are made up of billions of different types of bacteria that can reproduce inside the mouth by feeding on the food we eat. When they are not removed completely, they can eat away tooth enamel and lead to cavities or gum diseases.
While regular brushing and flossing are indeed effective ways of keeping your teeth and gums clean, they cannot eliminate all the unwanted bacteria in your mouth. Getting your teeth cleaned at the dentist is the most effective way to prevent tooth decay and discoloration.
Over the years, studies have shown that aside from healthier teeth and gums, professional dental cleaning has a broader effect on a person’s physical and social wellness.
These reasons make professional teeth cleaning all the more necessary:
Help prevent gum disease
The bacteria present in plaque and tartar degenerates the gums, which makes them bleed and swell easily. The condition can escalate to Gingivitis or Periodontitis — it’s more severe form.
Gum disease is one of the primary causes of tooth loss in the United States. And while some gum diseases are more severe and alarming than others, they are all caused by bacterial presence in the mouth.
Flossing and brushing your teeth at least twice a day helps eliminate germs and bacteria, but they’re not enough. You need professional dental services for a thorough and complete clean.
Help with early detection of oral cancer
When you go to a routine dental check-up, your dentist does not only check your teeth but also the overall condition of your oral tissues. He or she checks your lips, the inside of your cheeks, your tongue, and the roof and floor of your mouth. If your dentist detects suspicious growths or tell-tale signs of oral cancer during the examination, you will be referred to a specialist for further tests and evaluation.
While having your teeth professionally cleaned on a regular basis may not cure or prevent the disease, it helps a lot in the early detection of oral cancer. This is a big deal because late-stage oral cancer can be very difficult to cure.
Keep bad breath at bay
Food remains can accumulate between teeth and on the gum lines. Without proper cleaning, the tartar and plaque build-up harbor smelly bacteria, which is one of the biggest causes of bad breath or halitosis.
Having bad breath does not only have negative impacts on health, it can affect your social life and self-esteem as well. To maintain fresh breath, one must practice good oral hygiene, which includes regular brushing, flossing, mouth-washing, and routine visits to the dentist for professional dental cleaning.
Achieve brighter, more beautiful smile
Brushing and flossing several times a day keeps your teeth clean, which definitely helps make it look better when you smile. However, with these methods alone, you won’t be able to properly clean every nook and crevice of your teeth or reach into areas at the back of your mouth.
If you want your smile to be bright and radiant all the time, you have to put in the effort to keep it that way. Regular professional teeth cleaning can help you brighten your teeth and achieve that beautiful smile you’ve always wanted at a fraction of the cost of cosmetic dental procedures.
Improve overall health
Professional teeth cleaning isn’t just for keeping your breath fresh and your smile beautiful; it also has a significant impact on general health and wellness. Many people are unaware that the bacteria in their mouth and the infections they cause can spread to other parts and organs in the body and cause medical problems.
Poor oral hygiene has been linked to a myriad of serious illnesses, including cardiovascular diseases, bone loss, cancer, stroke, and several others. When dentists discover that their patient’s dental health is in pretty bad shape upon check-up, the patient may be advised to see a physician and get tested for the above-mentioned conditions.
What happens when you visit the dentist for professional teeth cleaning?
A lot of people have reservations about professional dental cleaning, mainly due to the stories they’ve heard about the discomfort and the irritating noise. While the apprehension is understandable, there’s really nothing to be scared of. It is a relatively simple and painless procedure, especially if you’ve been taking good care of your teeth.
This overview will give you an idea of what usually happens during a professional dental cleaning session:
1. Physical exam
Teeth cleanings are often performed by a dental hygienist. They begin with an oral examination, where the hygienist checks the overall condition of your mouth using a small mirror to check your teeth and gums for signs of inflammation or other potential issues.
If a problem is detected, the hygienist consults with the dentist and asks for approval before proceeding with the rest of the cleaning process.
2. Plaque and tartar removal
Using a small mirror as a guide, the dental hygienist starts to remove the plaque and tartar in between your teeth and along the gumline with a scaler. The more tartar you have in your mouth, the longer and harder they will have to scrape.
Many people find this part of the process uncomfortable because of the scraping sounds. If you don’t want the scraping process to take longer than usual, brush and floss more often to prevent tartar build-up.
3. High-powered brushing
When your teeth are completely free of tartar, the hygienist will begin the deep cleaning using a high-powered electric brush (which makes a grinding noise) and a special toothpaste with gritty consistency.
This step ensures that any left-over tartar is removed. The gritty toothpaste also gently scrubs and polishes your teeth.
4. Professional flossing
This may seem unnecessary to those who regularly floss their teeth at home, but a dental hygienist can get deep within your teeth and reach areas that you’re likely to miss when you floss on your own.
Flossing also removes traces of leftover toothpaste from the cleaning process.
5. Rinsing and flouride treatment
After your teeth and gums are thoroughly cleaned and flossed, the dental hygienist will ask you to rinse your mouth, usually with water containing liquid fluoride. He or she will apply a fluoride treatment that will protect your teeth from cavities.
The fluoride treatment uses a gel or paste applied to a mouthpiece and is left on your teeth for about a minute. Afterwards, your teeth are painted with a fluoride varnish.
How often should you get your teeth professionally cleaned?
One question that dentists often get from their patients is how often they should get their teeth cleaned. The straight answer is, it depends.
While it’s widely recommended to go to the dentist for check-up and professional cleaning once every six months, you may have to visit more frequently if you have or likely to develop cavities and gum problems.
Consult with your dentist for a clearer assessment of your oral health and dental needs.
About Dr. Boyle
Dr. Megan Peterson Boyle is the lead cosmetic dentist with Dental Studio 101 in Scottsdale, Arizona. She is focused on providing anxiety-free cosmetic dentistry services including invisalign, dental implants, dental crowns and cosmetic fillings. She enjoys spending time outdoors with her friends and family.