You should be coming into the office for professional cleanings at least twice a year. If you’re a high-risk patient—for example, you have a history of periodontal disease—you should be getting professional cleanings even more frequently. As your friendly practicing dentist on the internet, I know that no amount of advice (and encouragement) from me can replace an in-person cleaning and checkup at your local office.
Your Body Can Suffer
If you skip these crucial oral care services, the biofilm, aka layer of dental plaque, starts to accumulate around your teeth from all the food you eat throughout the day. As it builds up, the soft plaque can turn into hard tartar, which can lead to irreversible bone loss and periodontal disease.
Procedures That Can’t Be Done At Home
You can do a lot for your oral health at home, and at-home care is essential to complementing professional care. But only your dentist or dental hygienist can help you check for cavities, cracked teeth, and signs of cancer. For example, oral cancer is highly treatable when the early signs are detected through routine exams.
Here’s what happens during a professional cleaning service:
- The dentist or hygienist conducts a thorough oral examination of your mouth, detecting any problems that may arise, from periodontal disease to cavities to teeth grinding.
- Plaque is removed by using a scaler, a device that causes the hardened tartar to break off your enamel.
- An electric brush and special abrasive toothpaste is used to scrub and polish your teeth, removing light stains along the way.
- Usually, a fluoride treatment is applied to your teeth at the very end of the appointment. This is after the cleaning and rinsing is done, because you cannot eat or drink anything—not even water—for 30 minutes after applying the treatment. If you don’t want to use fluoride, you can request to skip this step.
A professional teeth cleaning is just as important as an annual physical. Mark your calendars, make a little room in your budget, and schedule your twice-a-year dental cleanings right now.