Proper oral hygiene is critical to maintaining adequate oral health. This includes regular brushing and flossing, as well as routine dental cleanings and checkups. The American Dental Association recommends that the average healthy individuals visit the dentist at least twice a year for a cleaning and check-up. This is important for any age group – for both children and adults.
Why is it necessary to get regular professional cleanings?
Regardless of how diligent you are in taking care of your teeth and gums, bacteria will inevitably build up in the mouth. These bacteria can be very harmful, causing decay, bad breath, infection, and even periodontal gum disease if not removed. Not only that, but it has been proven that your oral health can directly affect your overall health. That being said, regular professional dental cleanings are imperative to maintaining adequate overall health. The bacteria that cause gum disease are the same bacteria that have been linked to heart disease and other potentially fatal illnesses.
What happens when bacteria is allowed to grow in the mouth?
Moist, warm environments offer an ideal environment for bacteria to grow and breed, meaning the mouth is the perfect habitat. The manifestation of bacteria in the oral cavity results in plaque; which is a clear and sticky bio-film that develops on the teeth as a byproduct of colonies of bacteria. Plaque produces acid, which if left in place is very destructive to the gums and teeth.
When plaque is not properly removed, calculus (or tartar) forms and the bacterial colonies will mineralize and calcify to create a hard substance on the surface of the tooth both below and above the gum line. This hard substance then works to attract more harmful bacteria.
There are three stages of periodontal gum disease: gingivitis, periodontitis, and advanced periodontitis. Gingivitis occurs when bacteria are still in an active state, causing the human body to produce an immune response which leads to inflammation of the gums. To prevent further progression to the second stage of periodontal disease, gingivitis must be aggressively treated. If you see blood on your toothbrush or after you, rinse you likely have gingivitis and should contact us immediately for a checkup.
Periodontitis is the second stage of periodontal disease in which an active infection will ultimately destroy the foundation of the teeth. If periodontal disease is not treated, it will progress to advanced periodontitis, which will unavoidably lead to bone loss, tooth loosening and eventually tooth loss. Periodontitis is a disease that is progressive, chronic and episodic. The effects of periodontitis are reversible, but only when managed by a dental professional.
We will diagnose periodontitis by the onset of gum pockets, which occur as the result of inflammation and the gums pulling away from the tooth. Gum pockets offer an ideal habitat for bacteria to colonize, and the result is swelling, redness, and bleeding. If we identify one or more gum pocket, we will proceed to measure the depth of these pockets. A gum pocket that deeper than 4 millimeters indicate active periodontal gum disease.
The professional term for a standard dental cleaning is dental prophylaxis. This routine cleaning is used to remove plaque buildup that cannot be removed by brushing and flossing alone. We will perform dental prophylaxis at least twice a year, so long as we don’t notice deep gum pockets, gum bleeding or inflammation. If we do, a different cleaning method will be used.
The impact of these routine dental cleanings extend far beyond maintaining a healthy and beautiful smile since (as mentioned) there has been a strong link demonstrated between periodontal care and cardiovascular health. Because oral health is the gateway to overall health, it is important that you practice proper oral hygiene, which includes dental prophylaxis two a year.
Full mouth debridement
If you have not had your teeth professionally cleaned in over a year and there is a significant amount of tartar buildup we will recommend a full mouth debridement. During this cleaning process, we will use an array of special tools and a micro-ultrasonic scaler to remove excessive calculus buildup.
If we notice infected gum pockets throughout the mouth, we may recommend laser light therapy to kill bacteria present in the pockets.
Once we have finished giving your teeth a thorough cleaning we can begin the examination. The first part of the exam is to take an X-ray of your mouth, which gives us a way to look past the soft tissues in your mouth and see any issues that may be arising in the teeth or bones. Using dental X-rays, we can also scan for issues like oral cancers and tooth decay.
We Dr. Rowley will examine your teeth carefully using a probing tool to see if you have any signs of tooth decay or issues with your gums.