When you’re in a good cycle of dental health, it may seem like your regular dental checkups are always pending, you get great results with no cavities, a dental cleaning, and an appointment card for your next visit. Is this six-month cycle really necessary? With a diligent home care routine, are frequent dental cleanings overkill?
While every patient is different, the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends dental visits and cleanings twice a year. As preventive dentistry specialists, the team at Lee Dental in Frisco, Texas agrees. We know firsthand how quickly excellent dental hygiene can disappear through neglect. Your dental cleanings are important, and when you know why, you’ll understand the reason for that next appointment card.
Bacteria, plaque, and tartar
Food debris and bacteria already in your mouth combine with saliva to create a sticky biofilm called plaque that coats the enamel surfaces of your teeth. This is the target for your daily brushing and flossing efforts since, if not stripped away, plaque starts to trap calcium and other minerals in your mouth.
These minerals cause plaque to harden, producing a substance called tartar, which cements itself to teeth, pushing below the gumline. You can’t remove tartar with a brush or floss. Our hygienists attack tartar with special instruments to break it up and scrape it away as part of your cleaning.
The bacteria in plaque irritates gum tissue, increasing your chances of gum disease, progressing first through gingivitis and later into a chronic condition called periodontitis. The presence of gum disease could increase your risk of chronic diseases that you may not associate with your oral health.
The plaque progression
You may be thinking about the time you spend brushing and flossing as enough to rid your mouth of plaque, and with a strong oral care habit at home, you could well be eliminating plenty of plaque, even before it converts to tartar.
However, home care doesn’t provide perfect plaque protection on all tooth surfaces. Plaque can build up between teeth and along or below the gumline, enclosed spaces that aren’t serviced well with home care. Preventing the buildup of plaque and tartar requires a concerted effort between you and your hygienist. Dental cleanings are the time to arrest the forward progression of plaque.
The range of dental cleanings
The elimination of tartar and plaque are perhaps the most important part of a dental cleaning, but the benefits don’t end there. Most cleanings start with an examination of your mouth to identify issues such as swollen gums or damage to teeth.
Once your teeth are free from tartar, your cleaning continues with an abrasive polish. The electric brush sounds like a dentist drill, but don’t worry. The polishing uses a scrubbing toothpaste to aggressively clean tooth enamel. It’s too extreme for a daily routine, but it’s safe twice a year to help keep stains at bay.
Your cleaning ends with a flossing session to clear away loose tartar and abrasive toothpaste before you rinse. Once you have a quick fluoride treatment, your cleaning session is done.
Contact us at Lee Dental if it’s time to get caught up on your dental cleaning visit. You can make an appointment by phone or by using our online booking link. That dental cleaning is simply too important, so schedule your visit now.