Roseville MN Dentists
2575 Hamline Ave N, Ste F
Roseville, MN 55113
(651) 636-2373

By contactus
May 28, 2010
Category: Uncategorized
Tags: Untagged

Sometimes patients ask me, "If I brush and floss regularly, why do I have to keep coming in every 6 months for a cleaning?" This question seems to come up more and more, especially since we all see television commercials for electric toothbrushes and tooth pastes that claim to give people a "Dentist clean feeling." I think that this is a certainly valid question for patients to ask, since many people don't know all the reasons for a routine dental cleaning, or as we call it a dental prophylaxis. So for those of you who are curious, let me explain these reasons.
First of all I'm going to start by explaining the diseases and disease processes of gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis means inflammation of the gum tissues, which is in most cases, is brought on by the presence and build-up of plaque, bacteria, and calculus (aka tartar). If gingivitis is left untreated and the bacteria, plaque, and calculus are not removed, the inflamed gum tissues begin to affect the bones & tissues that support and hold your teeth in place. Overtime the supporting bone and tissues move away from the teeth, essentially trying to "run away" from the bacteria, plaque, and calculus. This loss of tooth support is called periodontitis and can progress all the way to complete tooth loss. It is the main reason people require dentures.
Ok, so now that we have that foundation, let's discuss why we need a cleaning versus simple routine brushing and flossing. As you've probably figured out by now, the goal of a cleaning is to remove bacteria, plaque, and calculus (BPC) from the teeth in order to fight off and prevent the onset of gingivitis and periodontitis. Fortunately, diligent flossing and brushing can remove most plaque that accumulate on teeth & mouth rinses can help to keep bacteria "in check;" however, due to it's strength and ability to tightly adhere to teeth calculus will not come off with routine homecare. This is the primary reason for a cleaning. You can always tell after you get your teeth cleaned because the back of your lower front teeth feel so smooth and slippery, that's because the calculus has been removed and you're finally feeling your natural tooth! Also, as diligent as we all are about our personal oral hygiene, we unfortunately can't get into all of the "nooks and crannies" where bacteria, plaque, and calculus like to hide. Which is why hygienists have so many different tools that they use.
So why do we call it a prohylaxis then? Well, unfortunately periodontitis is a very difficult and very expensive disease to treat, so our goal is prevention (i.e.- prophylaxis) of periodontitis and gingivitis. So then why do we need cleaning twice a year? Well, in most people 6 months is about the time it takes for a significant amount of calculus to build-up. Some people are on shorter recalls, such as every 3 or 4 months, because we found that for numerous reasons calculus and plaque deposits develop more frequently in their mouths.
Another reason for our 6 month time table is that 6 months is enough time for tooth decay to set in, but hopefully not enough time for that decay to grow to big. Therefore getting a "check-up" every 6 months can significantly decrease the severity of other dental conditions. If you have any questions or comments regarding this post please feel free to leave them below or if you require more discretion you can e-mail us at [email protected] Happy Spring everyone!