“I brush and floss my teeth regularly, why do I need a teeth cleaning?”
Professional teeth cleanings are important preventative measures in oral health that go beyond the cleaning you can do at home. Bi-yearly cleanings can save you time and money by catching dental diseases early and removing tartar from your teeth.
What Does a Teeth Cleaning Involve?
A skilled dental hygienist will first scale your teeth, a process of carefully scraping tartar from each and every tooth. After that, a paste is applied to the teeth and polished with a rotating hand tool that leaves your teeth feeling fresh and smooth. Then, the hygienist flosses in-between your teeth to remove any remaining debris. Lastly, you can choose to receive a fluoride treatment that protects your enamel from cavities.
When you brush and floss at home, you are removing plaque from your teeth. Most people would be lying if they say they have never fallen asleep without brushing, or never have nights they quickly run a toothbrush over their teeth without thoroughly reaching every area. Plaque left on the teeth turns into tartar, a hard, calcified substance that leads to decay and cavities. Unlike plaque, only a dental hygienist with professional tools and equipment can remove tartar.
Prevents Gum Disease
Another job of dental hygienists is to check for gum disease, also known as periodontitis. The hygienist will check the health of your gums and can alert you to any early signs of gum disease. If caught early, proper care and oral hygiene can reverse gum disease. Poor gum health can lead to further complications such as tooth loss.
Also, your hygienist and dentist can give you a personalized treatment plan to prevent gum disease. Going to the dentist can be the friendly reminder you need to brush properly at a 45-degree angle to reach your gums and to floss daily.
Whiter Teeth and Better Breath
Drinking tea, coffee, or smoking tobacco products can take a toll on your teeth and over time cause staining. A dental cleaning will remove these built up stains on teeth, leading to a whiter smile.
The cleaning also removes food or plaque lodged in the corners of your mouth, which can cause bad breath. Their removal can help clear up and freshen your breath. Teeth cleanings also remove plaque and food stuck in hard to reach places of your mouth, such as in-between teeth and near the gum line. Debris in the mouth can lead to bad breath, and the removal can help freshen bad breath.
Save Money in the Long Run
Most dental insurance plans cover the cost or have a low co-pay for dental cleanings and oral exams. It is extremely beneficial in the long run to take full advantage of these benefits.
Even if you are uninsured, routine cleanings and exams can save you money. The cost of fillings and treating neglected oral disease and complications can add up fast. Along with financial savings, routine cleanings can save you time and stress. Cleanings are a quick, painless procedure that can prevent oral surgeries and fillings down the line.
Get your X-Rays
X-rays are not necessarily required every six months unless you are a high-risk patient, your dentist can identify when it is a good idea for you to get X-rays. X-rays are important to dental health because they can identify issues that are impossible to see with the naked eye. X-rays are commonly a part of the same appointment as the cleaning and dental exam.
Getting an X-ray during your routine visit can identify the following things that could be easily overlooked otherwise:
- Show decay in-between the surfaces of your teeth or underneath fillings
- Identify tumours or cysts
- Identify small holes (known as caries) in the teeth that need more brushing or fluoride treatment to prevent large cavities from forming
- Monitor the growth of permanent teeth for children
- Monitor wisdom teeth growth beneath the gums, identifying if they are impacted and will require an extraction before the patient even feels pain
- Reveal disease around the teeth
A common concern for patients is the risk of radiation exposure from X-rays. Recent innovations in X-rays have made them safer than ever. The dentist will not do X-rays on you unless they feel it is necessary. Dental assistants and hygienists will assure you are wearing the proper protective equipment.
Most people do not realize that teeth cleanings are usually paired with an examination from the dentist. During a routine check-up, the dentist can identify a number of problems early on so that you can receive early intervention before the issue escalates any further. The dentist will be able to:
- Check for damaged fillings
- Look for broken or damaged teeth
- Identify early gum disease
- Examine the tissue inside your mouth as well as your tongue for overall oral health
- Spot cavities and signs of tooth decay
- Check any dental appliances you have
- Examine your bite
- Analyze dental x-rays
Early Detection of Potentially Dangerous Conditions
An oral examination can also detect diseases that go beyond the mouth. Some illnesses and health issues have side effects that show up in the mouth, and a dentist can help to identify them so you can receive early intervention. Some examples of health problems that can be identified with an oral examination are:
- Oral Cancer
- Poor nutrition
Oral health can easily be written off as a superficial practice for better-looking teeth, but oral health issues are directly linked to more serious disease. Dental exams help catch gum disease early, which is directly linked to heart attacks and strokes. Also signs of oral cancer can be detected early during routine exams. The dental office can assist you in making financial arrangements for future procedures if any serious health problems are detected.
Your bi-annual dental visits do so much more than make your teeth feel a bit cleaner. By seeing your dentist regularly, you have the potential to prevent some major health issues. It’s never too late to start going – contact Valley Ridge Dental Centre in NW Calgary today to schedule your first appointment!