Why You Shouldn’t Skip Your Bi-Annual Dental Cleanings

While dental professionals emphasize that biannual cleanings can help prevent most dental diseases, about 100 million Americans fail to visit their dentist every year. If you’re among this number, you may be losing more than your gaining. 

Routine dental cleanings typically involve less time and cost than complex treatments for tooth decay and gum disease, which may require more than one visit to correct just one issue.

Working with a dentist you trust can make you feel less intimidated by routine dental visits. Lauren Izadi, DDS, and Edward Kim, MS, DDS, provide a full range of preventative dental services at West End Dental in Downtown Washington, DC. Their professional and compassionate approach to dental care ensures that you’ll feel confident and comfortable during your visits. 

The dental professionals at West End Dental are dedicated to helping you protect your dental health and overall well-being. In this blog, they explain why biannual dental cleanings are so important for achieving this goal.

What’s involved in a dental cleaning?

Biannual cleanings include comprehensive oral exams designed to keep your entire mouth healthy. Here’s what you can expect:

Oral exam

Before your dental cleaning, your dentist will examine your teeth and gums for signs of cavities and gum disease. A small, handheld mirror will allow your dentist to see less visible areas of your mouth and the inside surfaces of your teeth. However, the screening process involves more than just a visual exam. 

Your dentist will use a special ruler called a periodontal probe to determine your risk for periodontal disease. The ruler is used to measure the depth of the groove between your teeth and gums. Spaces deeper than 4 mm typically indicate periodontal disease. 

When necessary, your dentist will take digital X-rays to evaluate the condition of your teeth and gums. The results can help identify problems with bone decay.

Your oral exam will also include an annual oral cancer screening. Oral cancer is often symptom-free in its early stages, so you may have it and not know until it progresses. An oral cancer screening includes an examination of your lips, cheeks, tongue, palate, gums, the bottom of your mouth, and your head and neck.

Professional cleaning

To begin your dental cleaning, your dentist will use a handheld tool called a scraper to remove plaque and tartar that has accumulated on your teeth. 

Then your dentist will use a high-powered electric toothbrush and professional toothpaste that has a gritty feel. The combined power of the electric toothbrush and toothpaste will provide a deep cleaning. 

Then your dentist will floss your teeth to examine your gums for signs of bleeding. If your dentist notices signs of improper brushing or flossing techniques, they’ll give you tips for improving your methods for better results.

After your cleaning, your dentist will use water and/or liquid fluoride to remove any debris. The final part of your visit will likely involve the application of a fluoride varnish over your teeth to protect them from tooth decay for a few months. 

Dental cleanings can help your oral and overall health

Oral diseases pose a significant global health problem. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that about 3.5 billion people worldwide suffer from oral diseases. Two of the most prevalent oral conditions are periodontal disease and tooth decay, both of which are considered preventable and treatable when diagnosed in their early stages.

The importance of having biannual dental cleanings increases with age. Your risk of developing cavities and periodontal disease increases as you get older, making biannual dental cleanings and dental examinations more important. About 50% of Americans age 30 or older, totaling about 64.7 million people, have an advanced form of periodontal disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Having regular dental cleanings can also protect more than your teeth and gums. There is evidence that the first signs of certain diseases, including diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and thyroid disease, may be apparent during an oral exam. In fact, oral symptoms, such as mouth ulcers, bad breath, swollen gums, and dry mouth, are apparent in more than 90% of all systemic diseases.

To schedule you biannual cleanings, book an appointment online or over the phone with West End Dental today.

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