A common question I am often asked is, “Why do I need to have my teeth cleaned twice a year?” The “twice a year” or “every 6 months” dental cleaning and check up concept actually came about in the 1950’s when a popular toothpaste company put out a television commercial about their toothpaste. They said, “Use our toothpaste and see your dentist twice a year!” Yes, the guidelines for dental cleaning frequency were taken from a television commercial. Are you surprised? I sure was when that fact was revealed to me many years ago in Dental Hygiene school.
The fact is that we are all different and it just goes to figure that our dental needs differ as well. Let’s get one thing straight, it is unethical to allow treatment needs be determined by television commercials or insurance companies. There are many factors that go into determining how often you should have your teeth cleaned; the health of your gums, your bone level, the amount of plaque you build up, if you smoke, take certain medications or are under going certain medical treatments. These all play a role in your healthcare. However, some people just enjoy having their teeth cleaned and prefer to visit me every 4 to 6 weeks.
What you may not realize is that every time you have a professional cleaning you are receiving a “gum treatment” as well as plaque removal. You may be one of those people who on the surface appear to have very little plaque build up. However, beneath the gums and out of view and range of your toothbrush, there could be a substantial amount of plaque causing bone loss and diseased tissue. The tools we use to clean your teeth are double edged and as I remove plaque and bacteria from under your gums I am simultaneously removing a thin layer of diseased tissue as well. This allows new, healthy fibers to grow out from the gum tissues and attach to your tooth higher up on the root. This means your healing!
Making and keeping your appointments is extremely important for your health and the health of others too. Every time you break an appointment you take away an opportunity for someone else to use that time to better their health.
If you are recommended to have more frequent professional cleanings and cost keeps you from doing so, I urge you to really consider the value of the treatment proposed. Nothing is better for your oral health than prevention, and regular professional cleanings are an instrumental ingredient of prevention. The fee is really no more than the cost of a massage or a trip to the barber and less than a set of hair highlights or round of golf, but the benefit is your health and your appearance.
Keep on Smiling!