Are Dental Cleanings Necessary

The short answer is Yes!  The more important question is how often you need to have dental cleanings.  How often you should go to the dentist depends on your teeth, gums, health conditions, medications, and your dental homecare.

When it comes to frequency, there is no one size fits all.  The goal is to have your teeth and gums checked often enough to prevent mouth problems which lead to overall health problems.  Issues like cavities and gum disease cause pain and tooth loss. Both can be avoided and managed with regular dental visits.

Oral Bacteria 

The bacteria in your mouth are serious opportunist that can cause damage without you realizing it until the damage is severe.  Plaque is a potentially harmful bacterial film that is constantly forming on your teeth and gums.  This sticky, colorless substance eats away at your enamel which causes cavities. 

Tartar or calculus is the hardened form of plaque not removed often enough.  The formation of tartar irritates your gum much like a splinter irritates your hand. Once the splinter is removed the inflamed surrounding area heals.  Once the tartar is removed the surface of the tooth is smoother and easier to keep clean.

Tartar can only be removed by a dental hygienist or dentist using special instruments. Even the most diligent brusher and flosser can not remove plaque once it turns to tartar.

Oral Cancer

An important part of a dental exam is the oral cancer screening.  When found in the early stages of development, oral cancer patients can have an 80 to 90% survival rate. 

Oral cancer can affect your lips, cheek lining, gums, tongue, hard palate (roof of mouth) and the area under the tongue.  The top part of the throat that connects to the soft palate is another area.  A thorough head and neck exam by your dentist can reveal any lumps or abnormalities.

Beyond the Mouth

Other medical conditions can show signs in the mouth.  Signs of diabetes and anemia are a few of the most common problems a trained dental professional can identify during a comprehensive dental exam.  In fact, 90 percent of all systemic disease have oral signs including swollen gums, dry mouth, and ulcers.

Serious conditions like diabetes, leukemia, heart disease, kidney disease and pancreatic cancer may be identified by your dentist earlier than the other symptoms you may notice later.  This early diagnosis and referral to a physician for a medical check-up is key in preventing medical complications from late diagnosis damage.

In additional to keeping your teeth and gums healthy, regular dental check-ups and cleanings are vital to maintain overall health.  When was the last time you had a thorough dental exam?