According to the American Dental Association, the single most important thing patients can do aside from brushing and flossing every day is to go for regular cleanings and examinations by a dental professional at least twice a year. When teeth are professionally cleaned with regularity, it raises the level of oral health considerably. When coupled with twice-daily brushing and flossing, patients can experience an incredible level of oral cavity health.
This is important for a variety of reasons, one of which is the fact that oral health is directly correlated to medical health. If oral health suffers, it can lead to medical problems with the potential for deadly consequences. This includes a higher risk of stroke, arthritis, diabetes, and even heart disease.
How Important Are Cleanings?
Even when patients brush and floss like they are recommended to do so, it does not remove all of the plaque and bacteria. This is important to remember because plaque and bacteria are not only bad for oral health, but they are also the start of tooth decay and periodontal disease. That is why in conjunction with the proper flossing and brushing, patients need to come in for professional cleanings to remove all residual bacteria and plaque. The biggest part of a professional cleaning is using dental instruments to get rid of the bacteria, plaque, and tartar which build up around the teeth. This lowers the risk of developing gum disease and tooth decay.
While the cleaning is being done, our professional staff will evaluate the oral cavity and look for any changes in the oral pathology of the patient. This means they will inspect the teeth, gums, interior of the cheek, roof of the mouth, and tongue for any sores or abscesses. An oral cancer screening is also included. As with most anything, early treatment is the biggest factor to successful treatment.
What Happens During a Cleaning?
Most cleanings take from 30 to 60 minutes and are completed in a single appointment. It should become part of the oral health care of every patient. We will update the patient’s records too, recording any changes to the oral pathology. This is so we can track any pre-existing conditions and also record any new conditions developing.
A scaler is a handheld instrument used to scrape away the bacteria, tartar, and plaque from the surface of the tooth above and below the gumline. We will use an abrasive toothpaste which is used to remove stains to brighten the patient’s tooth enamel. The American Dental Association warns that abrasive toothpaste should not be used at home but only by a dental professional.
The final step in the cleaning is a fluoride treatment which helps to strengthen the teeth. X-rays are also used to document any changes in the jawbones.
Patients with questions can also come in to see us at the office. Our office can be reached by phone at 206-791-2020.