Most patients think of a professional teeth cleaning appointment as accomplishing three things: removing plaque and tartar from your teeth, polishing those pearly whites, and having your teeth flossed.
Teeth cleaning appointments are important when it comes to accomplishing those tasks and much more.
These appointments usually include taking X-rays of your mouth to identify whether cavities exist that are unseen by the naked eye. We also inspect your gums and look for signs of gingivitis and periodontitis.
Routine dental checkups and teeth cleaning appointments may help identify health problems elsewhere in the body. Many systemic diseases show initial signs in the mouth, according to the American Dental Hygienists’ Association. Therefore, a dental hygienist also screens patients for serious illnesses including HIV infection, oral cancer, eating disorders, substance abuse and diabetes.
Hygienists also may identify signs of hypertension and heart disease in the mouth.
Establishing a dental home is important for children and adults, because tooth decay is the primary cause of tooth loss in children, and periodontal disease is the primary cause among adults.
Routine dental exams and teeth cleaning appointments are particularly important if you have any of the following risk factors:
- Tongue and lip piercings- These can cause blood poisoning, toxic shock syndrome, prolonged or permanent drooling, and they can damage your sense of taste. They also can chip or crack teeth, damage tooth enamel and cause gum recession.
- Tobacco use- This is the primary cause of oral cancer, and smokers are at increased risk of developing periodontal disease.
- Alcohol use- A study published in 2015 found that alcohol consumption is a gum disease risk factor, and it can aggravate an existing case of severe gum disease.
Although they are important, dental exams and teeth cleaning appointments are just one piece of the oral health puzzle. What you do at home contributes greatly to your ability to keep your natural teeth for a lifetime.
Follow these tips between dental visits:
- Eat healthy treats such as celery, carrots and apples, as they help clear away loose food and debris.
- Use a new toothbrush every two to three months.
- Use a new toothbrush after a cold or flu.
- Brush after every meal. If you can’t do that, rinse your mouth with water after eating or drinking sugary snacks and drinks, or chew gum after meals to help eliminate food particles caught between teeth. This also helps prevent plaque buildup by stimulating saliva production.
Has it been a while since you had your teeth cleaned? If so, please call our office for an appointment. We want to help you keep your smile beautiful and your mouth healthy.