A patient receiving dental cleaning at a clinic
January 23, 2024

Ouch! Is that a cavity? Why are my gums so red? These are common questions many people find themselves asking. With nearly half of U.S. adults 30 and older having some type of gum disease, it’s clear that oral hygiene is a major concern. The good news is that tooth decay and other problems are highly preventable — regular dental cleanings are the best way to avoid cavities, tooth loss, and other issues.

What Is Included in a Regular Dental Cleaning?

The American Dental Association recommends having a professional dental cleaning twice a year. Visiting a dentist every six months can help prevent cavities, catch gum disease early, prevent tooth decay, and look for signs of oral cancer.

During treatment, you will see an oral hygiene specialist called a dental hygienist. Along with your dentist, they will perform several treatments, such as:

  • Prophylaxis cleaning: Also known as a routine cleaning, this process involves using a curved, pointed tool called a scalar to remove plaque and tartar from your teeth. Some dentists offer laser dentistry cleanings that use a special dental laser instead of a scalar to clean your teeth.
  • Debridement: Debridement, also known as Full Mouth Debridement (FMD), can remove large amounts of plaque from teeth. You may need debridement if you haven’t had a cleaning in a while or struggle with routine dental hygiene. Debridement helps lower the risk of developing hardened plaque (tartar) and tooth decay.
  • Tooth polishing: Polishing adds a finishing touch to your dental cleaning and leaves your smile nice and shiny! This process uses a hand-held, rotating device to buff plaque from the surface of your teeth while smoothing it out and possibly lightning or removing stains.
  • Fluoride treatment: Fluoride is an important mineral that strengthens your teeth and contributes to good oral health. Most dental cleanings are completed by applying a fluoride treatment to your teeth.

Some patients may need more extensive cleaning to protect their teeth and remove bacteria from their mouths. In this case, the dentist may perform a procedure called scaling and root planing, which is a deep cleaning that removes bacteria trapped under the gums and cleans the surface of your tooth’s roots.

Benefits of Regular Dental Cleanings

Some people may feel as though they can skip routine dental cleanings if they brush and floss at home. Even though home care is important, professional cleanings are invaluable for a few reasons. By seeing a dentist regularly, you can avoid common oral health problems that require costly treatments and possibly even dental surgery.

Below are some of the benefits to getting routine dental cleanings.

Prevent Tooth Decay

Cavities and tooth loss are caused by tooth decay. This occurs when bad bacteria begins wearing down the outer layer of your tooth (the enamel). Eventually, it can reach the inside of your tooth, affecting the root and harming the rest of your mouth.

Prevent Gum Disease

Gum disease is common but also preventable. Regular cleanings remove bacteria from your mouth that could contribute to gum disease, which also helps protect you from tooth loss.

Prevent Bad Breath

If you continually have bad breath no matter what you do, then it is likely time to see a dentist. Plaque on your teeth and even bacteria on your tongue can lead to ongoing struggles with bad breath that brushing and mouthwash just can’t cure.

Avoid Tooth Discoloration

Yellow teeth and tooth stains can occur when you do not have regular cleanings. Because plaque builds up on teeth and wears away the enamel, it can reveal a yellow layer beneath called dentin. Furthermore, dirt and bacteria that gather on the teeth’s surface can lead to discoloration.

Save Money

Regular cleanings help you avoid developing oral health problems that you could have to pay to treat down the line.

Dental Cleanings and Insurance

Dental cleanings are usually free once a year in most dental insurance plans, and you can pay for additional ones at a lower cost thanks to your coverage. When it comes to protecting your smile, dental cleanings are the greatest thing you can do aside from brushing and flossing daily.

If you are looking for affordable dental insurance, the team at Live Health can help. Learn more about our dental insurance options by clicking here.

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