Did you recently receive a reminder for a dental cleaning appointment from your dentist’s office? Dentists recommend preventative care including dental cleanings every six months. But is it necessary to visit a dentist twice a year?
Good oral health is achieved through good oral hygiene habits and professional care. Regular brushing, flossing, and mouthwash are typically promoted as oral hygiene habits. However, these habits may not be enough, and a regular dental cleaning visit may be needed to maintain oral health.
A typical preventative care visit includes an oral exam followed by dental cleaning. A dental hygienist will often do a dental cleaning or scaling to remove the plaque and tartar. Flossing, rinsing, fluoride treatment and polishing follow this.
Most people have at least one preventative dental care visit per year as regular care. Given the increased incidence and prevalence of dental cavities, one visit per year might not be adequate for most people. The American Dental Association recommends professional dental cleaning – or a preventative care visit – every six months.
Here we discuss five major benefits of regular dental cleaning procedures:
The risk of cavities
Food residue in the mouth promotes the growth of harmful bacteria. These bacteria form a biofilm on the surface of teeth. The biofilm produces acids that demineralize the outermost layer of the tooth, enamel. If the bacterial growth continues, eventually dental cavities are formed. These cavities can affect the inner layers of the tooth such as the dentin and pulp. Regular cleaning at home and at the dentist's office reduces the risk of dental cavities.
Educating patients about oral care can help in reducing the risk of cavities. During a regular cleaning visit, a dental hygienist or the dentist educates patients to improve their dental cleaning habits. For instance, you might learn about frequency of brushing, the technique of flossing, etc.
The risk of gum diseases
Dental cleaning reduces the risk of gum diseases such as gingivitis and periodontitis. Various research studies have shown that poor oral hygiene increases the risk of periodontitis five times, compared to fair oral hygiene. People who visit a dentist to get regular dental cleaning done are less likely to experience gum diseases.
Flossing reduces the risk of gum diseases but in case of bleeding gums, other alternatives may be needed. Interdental brushes and waterjet devices can help in reducing gingivitis. During a regular dental cleaning visit, your dentist can suggest a device needed for a dental cleaning at home.
Fighting bad breath
Halitosis or bad breath can be due to a variety of causes. In periodontal diseases, the breath may have a sulfide-like smell. Sulfide smell is described as the smell of rotten eggs. Oxidative stress, or stress due to low antioxidant levels, can increase fatty acid levels in the bloodstream and give rise to bad breath.
Your dentist can suggest appropriate treatment to manage halitosis during the regular dental cleaning visit. Adding a mouthwash to the existing at-home dental cleaning routines may be sufficient. In some cases, deep cleaning under the gums may become necessary.
Bad breath is one of the early symptoms of diabetes mellitus. Approximately 23% of diabetic patients report a typical ketone smell in their breath as one of the symptoms. Although systemic diseases cannot be diagnosed in a dental visit, often awareness about the symptoms may happen during a dental visit.
Oral cancer and other diseases
Oral health is defined as “a state of being free from mouth and facial pain, oral and throat cancer, oral infections and sores, periodontal disease, tooth decay, tooth loss, and other diseases and disorders that limit an individual’s capacity to bite, chew, smile, and speak...”
Regular dental cleaning visits can help in the early diagnosis of oral cancers. However, research suggests that people who smoke are more likely to skip their dental care visits. Smoking is a known risk factor for oral cancer. Studies report that people with a college degree, high household income, current alcohol users, and non-smokers are more likely to get a dental evaluation or oral cancer exam.
Oral health is influenced by systemic diseases. For instance, high blood pressure is associated with tooth loss, even after taking into consideration the effects of age. On the other hand, diseases such as periodontitis are often associated with other diseases such as cataract. Regular cleaning reduces the risk of oral health leading to systemic diseases.
A brighter smile
A bright and beautiful smile can help in boosting confidence and overall positive psychosocial behaviors. Scaling and polishing teeth is a routine part of preventative dental care. Polishing teeth makes them appear healthy and beautiful.
During orthodontic treatments – for braces for example – professional cleaning may be necessary as the plaque building process often becomes rapid. If you are under orthodontic treatment, discuss your dental cleaning routine with your dentist.
Regular dental cleaning procedures help in maintaining oral health and thereby overall physical health. Talk to your dentist about the preventative care that you need because everybody deserves a beautiful smile.
- Visit your dentist every six months for a check-up.
- Regular dental cleanings help in preventing dental diseases such as cavities, gum disease, and bad breath.
- Professional dental cleanings can also help in reducing the risk of systemic disease and thereby help in maintaining overall health.
- Regular dental cleanings can also help with an early diagnosis of oral cancer.
Abedi, N. (2019). Meta-Analysis of the Effectiveness of Educational Interventions on Dental and Oral Health Promotion in Iran. J Educ Health Promot.
Ahmad, R. and Haque, M. (2021). Oral Health Messiers: Diabetes Mellitus Relevance. Diabetes Metab Syndr Obes.
Akinkugbe, A.A., Garcia, D.T., Brickhouse, T.H. and Mosavel, M. (2020). Lifestyle Risk Factor Related Disparities in Oral Cancer Examination in the U.S: A Population-Based Cross-Sectional Study. BMC Public Health.
Hujoel, P.P., Hujoel, M.L. and Kotsakis, G.A. (2018). Personal Oral Hygiene and Dental Caries: A Systematic Review of Randomised Controlled Trials. Gerodontology.
Kotsakis, G.A., Lian, Q., Ioannou, A.L., et. al. (2018). A Network Meta-Analysis of Interproximal Oral Hygiene Methods in the Reduction of Clinical Indices of Inflammation. J Periodontol.
Lertpimonchai, A., Rattanasiri, S., Vallibhakara, S., Attia, J. and Thakkinstian, A. (2017). The Association between Oral Hygiene and Periodontitis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. International Dental Journal.
Mendes, J.J., Viana, J., Cruz, F., Pereira, D. et. al. (2021). Blood Pressure and Tooth Loss: A Large Cross-Sectional Study with Age Mediation Analysis. Int J Environ Res Public Health.
Naseem, S., Fatima, H.S., Ghazanfar, H., et. al. (2017). Oral Hygiene Practices and Teeth Cleaning Techniques among Medical Students. Cureus.
Yeh, L.J., Shen, T.C., Sun, K.T., Lin, C.L., and Hsia, N.Y. (2022). Periodontitis and Subsequent Risk of Cataract: Results from Real-World Practice. Frontiers in Medicine.