In addition to brushing and flossing, it is important to have regular cleanings from the family dentist no matter your age. According to the American Dental Association, teeth cleanings should be done twice a year unless additional checkups are recommended.
Dental cleaning procedure
During a dental cleaning, a family dentist will typically begin by doing a physical exam of the mouth, taking X-rays, and performing a periodontal screening. These screenings check gums for inflammation, bleeding, and sensitivity. After the exam, tartar will be removed from the teeth using scalars and ultrasonic instruments. Once the teeth have been cleaned, the dentist will polish them with a hand tool and may apply a fluoride treatment to strengthen the teeth.
Important benefits of dental cleanings
In addition to keeping smiles looking bright, these professional teeth cleanings boast many benefits to both oral and general health. Here are four reasons why professional dental cleanings are important.
Detect dental problems early
During cleaning with the family dentist, patients may receive X-rays to check the condition of the teeth, roots, and jaw for problems that cannot be seen with an oral exam. These X-rays show the position of the teeth and can help determine if there is a need for braces, as well as showing if there are any infections, cysts, or tumors.
Prevent cavities and gum disease
During dental cleanings, plaque is removed. If plaque is left to build up, it can harden into tartar and cause tooth decay. The bacteria in plaque produce acids that eat away at tooth enamel, which can eventually lead to cavities if not removed.
Gum disease is caused by a buildup of plaque that allows bacteria to infect gums around and below the gum line. During a cleaning, the family dentist removes the plaque and reduces the risk of patients developing an infection or gum disease.
Prevent bad breath
Often halitosis, or bad breath, is caused by underlying dental issues or plaque. Plaque harbors unpleasant-smelling bacteria, creating a bad breath problem.
Improve overall health
Untreated gum infections and cavities can lead to the loss of a tooth, but the issues do not end there. Oral conditions that allow bacteria to thrive can contribute to various diseases or health problems.
Gum disease can potentially increase heart disease risk because the bacteria in the gum may lead to the narrowing of arteries. Endocarditis is an infection that affects the inner lining of the heart and usually is caused by bacteria that spread through the bloodstream from another part of the body, such as the gums.
Bacteria in the mouth can be pulled into the lungs to cause bronchitis or even pneumonia. Gum disease can also worsen chronic lung diseases such as asthma by causing inflammation of the airways. As well, untreated gum infections in pregnancy have been linked to premature labor.
Preventative dental care is vital to oral health. It can help identify problems early in development and help patients maintain a happy smile.