When was the last time you visited the dentist? Six months ago? A year ago? Maybe it’s been so long that you cannot recall the last time you were asked to rinse and spit. In any case, chances are that you’re overdue for a routine dental cleaning. For decades, it was recommended that patients check in twice annually for a cleaning, which usually includes having dental x-rays taken, an examination of the gums, and the removal of plaque and tartar that has built up on the surface of the teeth. However, a lot can happen to impact your oral health in a surprisingly short period of time. The highly experienced dentists at Parker West Dental Associates in Plano, TX, offer five reasons why patients should undergo a thorough dental cleaning every three to four months.
1. Plaque and tartar must be removed
Biofilm, more commonly known as plaque, is a colonization of bacteria that forms in the mouth and adheres to the surface of the teeth. They secrete acids that prompt tooth decay while also irritating the gums. This may lead to the gum disease gingivitis, as well as periodontal disease. Soft and colorless, biofilm will stay in place until it is removed. If allowed to harden, plaque becomes what is called tartar, which can form above and below the gum line. Its rough texture often can be felt with the tongue. The presence of tartar may make it difficult to brush and floss properly, which could lead to tooth decay and the formation of cavities. Tartar is responsible for releasing toxins into the body that result in inflammation and bone loss. A chronic condition, tartar is preventable. In order to remove it, however, it must be scraped away with specialized dental tools.
2. You need an oral cancer examination
It may be shocking to learn that more than 50,000 people in the United States will be diagnosed with some form of oral cancer annually. Oftentimes, it only is discovered once it has metastasized (or spread) to other areas of the body such as the lymph nodes in the neck. It also is dangerous because North Texas patients may not realize that they have cancer, especially during the early stages of the disease when its symptoms may be harder for them to recognize. Risk factors associated with oral cancer include the use of alcohol and tobacco. During a dental cleaning, the dentist can examine the tissue on your mouth for signs of the disease and, if necessary, refer you to a specialist for prompt treatment.
3. Dental infections can be detected and cleaned
Do your gums often bleed when you brush or floss? If so, be sure to let the dentists at Parker West Dental Associates in Plano, TX know during your routine dental cleaning as this may be a sign of infection. While it may seem like most everyone experiences some dental bleeding from time to time, it is not normal for this to occur and may indicate the presence of gum disease.
Gingivitis is considered the mildest form of gum disease. It usually is marked by red, swollen gums that bleed easily. There may be little or no pain associated with it at this stage, and it usually is caused by poor oral hygiene habits. Gingivitis can be stopped in its tracks and even reversed with the help of brushing and flossing as well as with the use of an antiseptic mouthwash. However, if left untreated, gingivitis can progress and become periodontitis, during which plaque, a type of sticky bacteria, grows and spreads. The gums can separate from the teeth to form spaces through which tissue and bone can be damaged or destroyed. This may loosen the teeth and require that they be removed. Also, studies have shown that gum disease is related to other health issues including heart disease, osteoporosis, and diabetes.
4. Your breath is bad
Few experiences are worse than conversing in close proximity with someone whose breath is unpleasant. While certain foods, namely onions and garlic, are known to cause bad breath, it also may result from poor oral hygiene habits. Failing to brush and floss properly each day can cause plaque to irritate the gums and result in gingivitis. Meanwhile, bacteria can become trapped on the tongue. Food particles also can become stuck on dentures and cause a foul odor. A condition called dry mouth, caused when the salivary glands fail to produce enough saliva to keep the mouth wet, can also be a culprit of bad breath. It often is a side effect of aging, as well as the use of certain medications or radiation therapy for cancer. Tobacco use, postnasal drip, acid reflux, and other diseases can also cause bad breath to be present. The dentists at Parker West Dental Associates in Plano, TX may be able to diagnose these issues during a routine dental cleaning.
5. Improve the appearance of your teeth
As the saying goes, smile and the world smiles with you. Unless, of course, your teeth are stained and dingy looking. Research has shown that one of the first things people notice upon meeting someone is their smile. Keep yours looking white and bright with routine dental cleanings every three to four months. During the procedure, dental x-rays may be taken to help diagnose any decay, fractures, or other issues involving the teeth. Plaque will be removed and tartar scraped away with the help of specialized tools. The teeth, including all crowns and fillings, will be polished and stains may also be removed. For children, sealants, which help to prevent decay, may be applied to the teeth. Finally, fluoride treatments may be applied to help the teeth resist acid attacks caused by bacteria and sugar, as well as to reverse existing decay. If necessary during the appointment, the dentist may also teach North Texas patients how to properly brush and floss their teeth, provide them with nutritional counseling that may improve their oral health as well as information about tobacco-cessation programs, and recommend future treatments including restorative dental treatments. Future dental cleanings also may be scheduled at this time.
Do not put off having a routine dental cleaning every three to four months. There are numerous health benefits associated with this procedure, some of which reach far beyond your mouth and may even serve to prevent life-threatening medical conditions from occurring. North Texas patients are encouraged to contact the experienced dentists at Parker West Dental Associates in Plano, TX and schedule their appointment today.