If you've never gotten a dental cleaning, then you are missing out on an effective measure to keep cavities at bay. Along with a regular oral hygiene routine, getting twice-yearly dental cleanings can help you avoid costly dental treatment due to cavities and ensure that your natural teeth last a lifetime.
According to the CDC, 31.6% of adults between the ages of 20 and 44 in the US have untreated dental cavities. Regular dental cleanings could help to reduce that figure drastically.
1. By Removing Cavity-Causing Tartar
With every oral hygiene session, you remove plaque from your teeth. Oral bacteria use the stickiness of plaque to cling to the surface of teeth. And while on teeth, plaque accumulates food debris, which the oral bacteria then metabolize. Once they have eaten, like all living things, oral bacteria then produce waste material. This acidic waste material damages tooth enamel and leads to cavities.
But if you don't remove plaque in a timely manner, that mixture of bacteria, acids, and food debris becomes tartar. This is because the minerals in your saliva mix with the plaque and cause it to harden into tartar. Because tartar contains acidic material, it can damage your tooth enamel over time.
Since you can't remove tartar yourself, a dental cleaning will do it for you. This will keep cavities at bay.
2. By Spotting Early Enamel Demineralization
Early enamel demineralization can be difficult to spot, especially if the demineralization occurs in a hard-to-see location. Demineralization happens when acids erode the surface of teeth. At first, only a white spot may be visible, but later, that white spot will become a cavity.
A dental hygienist can spot demineralization and then suggest an appropriate treatment.
3. By Applying Fluoride Treatment to Teeth
If your oral hygienist thinks that you can benefit from fluoride due to visible demineralization, then they will offer to treat your teeth with it. Fluoride helps to strengthen enamel. Fluoride is also an effective treatment for reversing demineralization. Without the fluoride gel, foam, or varnish application, demineralization could progress to a cavity.
4. By Polishing the Surfaces of Teeth
Bacteria adhere more easily to teeth that have a rough surface. This is why plaque is so rough to the touch when you touch it with your tongue. The oral bacteria that live on your teeth thrive in plaque. But enamel imperfections also provide bacteria with a foothold because imperfections like chips or cracks tend to be rough in texture.
A dental hygienist can smooth rough areas by polishing your teeth during your dental cleaning. This will make it more difficult for oral bacteria to cling to your teeth.
5. By Cleaning Hard-to-Reach Areas
Some areas of your mouth may be hard to reach with a toothbrush or floss. These areas will be some of the most prone to developing tooth cavities because oral bacteria will be able to build up on the tooth surfaces. A dental cleaning will help to clean these areas effectively. Your dental hygienist will also offer you suggestions on how better to reach those areas during oral hygiene sessions.
That knowledge will allow you to give those areas special focus when you clean your teeth.
6. By Providing Useful Advice for Oral Health
Dental hygienists can help you to stay informed about good oral hygiene practices and dietary habits. For instance, an oral hygienist can recognize if your brushing habit is failing to reach a certain area of your teeth. They can then suggest a new brushing method. The same is true of your diet. Your hygienist can suggest foods that will help to keep your enamel strong and cavity-free.
As you can see, dental cleanings are an effective backup for your typical oral hygiene routine. If you don't yet have at least one dental cleaning a year, consider talking to your dentist about doing so. Your oral health will benefit in the end.