Getting cleaned professionally by a dentist should be a regular part of your routine. At Greenspoint Dental, we have a variety of cleaning procedures available to our patients. Regular cleaning by a dentist manages to get rid of plaque and food that cannot be reached by regular brushing with a toothbrush. The space in between teeth and other hard to reach places are breeding grounds for bacteria in plaque, and are prime spots for tooth decay. The question is, how often should you get professionally cleaned? Is there a number of times that a person should visit the dentist each year?
Anatomy of a tooth
A tooth is made up of three layers: enamel, dentine, and pulp. Enamel is the protective covering of the tooth. However, a build-up of bacteria-rich plaque can eat away at the enamel and cause tooth decay. When food gets stuck in between teeth, the area can become home to bacteria which uses the sugar and carbohydrate from food we eat to create acids that break down the tooth. This is why brushing your teeth is very important; it helps clean out food particles from the teeth and prevent tooth decay and loss.
The difference between professional and personal cleaning
Personal oral hygiene is typically done with toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss. Other people like to use mouthwash and electric toothbrushes in their routine. These are all basic things that are enough for everyday cleaning to prevent the formation of cavities. Professional cleaning is much more thorough, using dental implements such as probes and excavators to clean the teeth, particularly those that cannot be reached by normal brushing.
Truth or myth: Annual check-ups
For years, getting professionally clean at least twice a year was the endorsement by most dentists. While this remains true, it is important to get regular check-ups as well, at least every 2 to 3 months. When you start to feel any symptoms of pain or discomfort, especially when eating, visit your dentist and get your teeth checked out. You may have a cavity you aren’t aware off, or your wisdom teeth might be erupting.
A study published in the Journal of Dental Research examined the correlation between the frequency of cleaning and long-term tooth loss among participants, including risk factors such as smoking, diabetes, and genetics. The results of the study were conclusive; people with one or more risk factors can benefit from simply two cleanings a year while people with two or more risk factors need more than two annually. For people with no risk factors, annual cleaning was sufficient.
The magic number of cleanings
In reality, there isn’t a magic number for the “correct” number of check-ups and cleaning; do what you think is best for you and your needs. Some people can get away with annual cleaning while others need to get cleaned more frequently. If you are a smoker, diabetic, have a history of gum disease, or have a high intake of sugary food and carbohydrate, getting cleaned more frequently will be very beneficial. Remember that good oral hygiene can prevent cavities, build-up of tartar, and gum disease.