You probably already know how important it is to get your teeth cleaned on a regular basis, but you might not know how often you should have your teeth cleaned to keep your teeth as healthy as possible. Ultimately, your frequency of dental cleanings from Implant and Comprehensive Dentistry in Champions Gate, and Winter Haven, FL depends on a number of factors, including your personal hygiene habits, the condition of your teeth and gums, and your propensity for developing plaque.
How Often Should You Get a Dental Cleaning?
American Dental Association Recommendation
The American Dental Association does not provide an actual frequency recommendation for teeth cleanings. In fact, it simply states that regular cleanings are recommended at intervals that have been determined by a dentist. Essentially, the ADA believes that each person’s needs for teeth cleanings are different and that one blanket recommendation isn’t suitable for everyone, especially given the difference in hygiene routines and genetic predispositions. The association does recognize a link between the frequency of dental cleanings and tooth loss.
Instead of providing a one-size-fits-all recommendation, the ADA says that high-risk patients should receive more frequent cleanings and low-risk patients do not need to have their teeth cleaned as often. The association also states that personalized oral care is the best approach for patients to get and maintain good oral health. As such, it is recommended that patients work closely with their dentist to determine a cleaning schedule that is appropriate for their dental needs.
Most Common Recommendation
For most patients, dentists recommend getting their teeth cleaned professionally once every six months, or twice a year. Additionally, the majority of insurance companies have settled on covering two teeth cleanings per year, so this has long been the standard adhered to by most patients. The six-month interval between cleanings wasn’t chosen at random, as this is the normal time frame when plaque begins to reform on your teeth. The bacteria that causes plaque begin colonizing immediately after a cleaning.
Some people may not need to get their teeth cleaned as often, though, and will probably be fine with getting a cleaning once a year. However, if you have any of the following risk factors, it is recommended that you stick with scheduling a cleaning every six months:
- Your water or toothpaste does not contain fluoride
- You snack on sweets and other foods frequently
- You do not floss
- You do not brush your teeth at least twice a day
- You avoid the dentist except when you’re in pain
- You get at least one new filling at every check-up
- You have many cavity “watches” on your chart
- You wear dentures, braces, or other appliances in your mouth
- You have a chronic long-term health condition like diabetes
- You often have a dry mouth
- You are a smoker
- You are pregnant
If you have many of these risk factors, you might have to get cleanings on a more frequent basis, such as once every three or four months. This is particularly true if you suffer from a condition like diabetes or heart disease because you’re automatically at a higher risk of getting gum disease, even if you follow a diligent oral hygiene routine. Those who are on specific medications may need more frequent cleanings to ensure they aren’t causing dental issues.
Benefits of Regular Teeth Cleaning
The most obvious benefit of getting your teeth cleaned on a regular basis is to prevent cavities. As mentioned above, as soon as one cleaning is done, the bacteria that cause plaque begin recolonizing. It takes a few months for that bacteria to develop into plaque, but once it does, it eats away at the enamel on your teeth. Enamel is what protects your teeth, so without it, cavities develop, with bacteria making its way into the next tooth layer.
One risk factor for cavities is eating too much sugar and starches because the bacteria that cause plaque feed on sugar. While you can remove much of the sugar from your teeth by brushing and flossing, you won’t be able to remove it all, leaving some spots on your teeth more vulnerable to cavities than others. Professional cleanings remove the sugar, bacteria, and plaque that you are unable to remove on your own.
Tooth Loss Prevention
When plaque builds up below your gum line, it creates a gap between your gums and your teeth. This loosens the structures that hold your teeth in place. If this plaque is not removed and the gums placed back against the teeth, your teeth will become loose and eventually fall out. Regular dental cleanings ensure that a gap like this cannot form because any plaque is removed before it accumulates enough to damage your gums and teeth.
Sometimes, if you haven’t had a cleaning in a while, you’ll notice that your gums are sore and possibly even bleeding when you brush your teeth. This is an indication that plaque has accumulated below the gum line and you’ll need a deeper cleaning than what a regular cleaning entails. The dentist will scale and plane your teeth to remove the plaque below your gum line and to smooth out your roots to prevent plaque from adhering to them.
Between cleanings, your teeth will become stained by the various food and beverages you consume. While you can control staining somewhat, it’s inevitable that your teeth will have some stains when it’s time for your cleaning appointment. The polish used by dentists is specially formulated with pumice to scrub away stains caused by foods, drinks, and smoking. This polish is much coarser than typical toothpaste, so you’ll definitely notice how bright your smile is again after your cleaning is done!
Reduced Bad Breath
The bacteria in your mouth is responsible for bad breath, so if you regularly remove this bacteria from your teeth, you’ll have noticeably better breath. If you have plaque on your teeth, this means your mouth is full of bacteria, which could be a reason why you’re unable to completely rid yourself of bad breath on your own. Once this plaque is removed, the bacteria will be removed and dispersed and not able to cause bad breath until it re-accumulates.
Getting your teeth cleaned regularly prevents more expensive dental issues from forming. Most teeth cleanings are reasonably priced, depending on whether you need x-rays or not. Even with x-rays, cleanings and checkups are far cheaper than fillings, crowns, root canals, dental implants, and other advanced dental procedures. Moreover, if you have dental insurance, you usually won’t pay extra for your cleanings, either, as they are typically covered 100% through your premiums. Other procedures usually have additional costs even with insurance.
Early Problem Detection
In some cases, you might have dental problems that you are not aware of, especially if they aren’t causing you pain. By getting regular dental cleanings, you’ll enable your dentist to detect minor dental issues before they become major dental issues. For example, if you have a chipped molar, you may not realize it, but it could lead to a cavity later on since chips expose the unprotected layer of your teeth. Bacteria can penetrate that layer and cause decay.
Reduced Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
Studies show that there is a strong connection between cardiovascular disease and gum disease. The reasons behind this link are unclear, but researchers believe it may be related to inflammation, which is a symptom of gum disease. Getting your teeth cleaned on a regular schedule means that you are less likely to develop gum disease, and therefore, your risk of developing cardiovascular disease is reduced as well. This means that you’re less likely to have a stroke or heart attack.
Reduced Risk of Some Cancers
A recent study conducted by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that people who have severe gum disease also have an elevated risk for certain cancers, such as colorectal, lung, and pancreatic cancer. Surprisingly, this was true even for non-smokers, suggesting the healthy gums and teeth are important even for those who smoke. Visiting your dentist regularly will prevent gum disease, thereby keeping your risk for these and other cancers as low as possible.
Reduced Risk of Diabetes Types 1 and 2
While people with diabetes have a higher risk of gum disease, it’s also possible that gum disease increases your risk for developing diabetes. A study discovered that people who increase the number of times they brush their teeth per day to three instead of two lower their risk of getting diabetes by 8% compared to just three% for those who brush twice a day. While this may not seem like a lot, any reduction to risk is helpful.
Confidence is Boosted
Whether it’s the brighter smile or the fact that you’re doing something good for your health, getting your teeth cleaned regularly can boost your confidence. Certainly, when your smile is often the first feature other people notice about you, having bright, white teeth makes you feel more comfortable meeting people. Additionally, you’ll not only be proud of yourself for taking care of your teeth, but also because you’re reducing your risk of many other health conditions.
What to Expect at a Cleaning
If you’ve never had a dental cleaning before, you might be a little apprehensive about what to expect, especially if you’ve heard horror stories about dentists. Have no fear, though. Cleanings are easy procedures that usually take about an hour. You’ll get your mouth examined by the dentist or a dental hygienist, who will check your teeth and gums for any potential issues, like possible cavities or developing gum disease. You may also get x-rays if the dentist needs them.
Following this, the dental hygienist will use a scaler to scrape away plaque and tartar from your teeth and gum line. The more plaque you have, the longer this process will take. You will hear a scraping sound as the hygienist removes the plaque, but it is not harming your teeth at all. Next, when all plaque has been removed, your teeth will be polished with a high-powered brush and gritty flavored toothpaste.
Finally, your hygienist will floss your teeth and allow you to rinse your mouth with water. Some patients may also receive a fluoride treatment, but this is usually only done for people who do not get enough fluoride in their water or for young patients whose teeth are still developing. Fluoride helps build a protective shell around your teeth, adding an additional layer of protection from bacteria and tartar.
With all the benefits of getting your teeth cleaned on a regular basis, we’re sure you’re ready to schedule your own dental cleaning. So, contact Implant and Comprehensive Dentistry in Champions Gate, or Winter Haven, FL today to schedule your teeth cleaning and checkup appointment.