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  • Anderson Family Dental

Dental Cleanings: Answers to 5 Common Questions

Regular dental cleanings are an essential part of treating gum disease, preventing tooth decay, and maintaining good oral health. As much as tooth cleanings should be part of our regular healthcare routine, many people have questions about the process! Here are answers to 5 common questions about teeth cleanings!



woman having a dental cleaning

1. SHOULD I GET MY TEETH CLEANED EVERY 6 MONTHS?

In general, the ADA recommends people with overall stable oral health should get their teeth cleaned every six months. Getting your teeth cleaned twice every year gives your dental team a chance to monitor your teeth and gums and notice any changes before they become serious problems. 


Dental cleanings twice per year help keep your gums healthy by removing calcified plaque (also called tartar or calculus) before it can build up too much. Regular cleanings also allow your dentist to identify developing cavities, cracks, and other tooth problems early. The earlier we can treat tooth decay and similar problems, the less invasive and less expensive the treatment will be!


Beyond protecting your oral health, teeth cleanings every six months also keep your smile looking its best. At each tooth cleaning, your dental hygienist will polish your pearly whites, removing stains and keeping your smile looking brilliant. Especially if you have undergone tooth whitening, regular cleanings will help your results last as long as possible!


2. HOW OFTEN SHOULD I GET MY TEETH CLEANED WITH PERIODONTAL DISEASE?

For patients with periodontal disease, your dental hygiene treatment plan may include several phases. At first, treating active periodontal disease may require several tooth cleaning appointments back-to-back. This approach will give your dental hygienist an opportunity to remove all the plaque and tartar that has built up on your teeth. 


If you need scaling and root planing (also referred to as a deep cleaning), you may expect your first cleaning to be broken up into sections, allowing your dentist to numb each area for total comfort while your hygienist carefully addresses each tooth. Following a deep cleaning, your hygienist may recommend coming back in a few weeks to check on how the gums are healing and remove any debris that has started to build up again.


Following a deep cleaning, teeth cleanings every three months will give your gums a chance to recover from periodontal disease and prevent new tartar from building up below the gums. You may need teeth cleanings four times per year (every 3 months) for the first couple of years after treating periodontal disease. 


Once your gum health has become stable, your dental team may recommend slowly spacing your cleanings out, working toward teeth cleanings every six months for maintenance. Remember: the better your home care habits, the sooner that change can happen!


3. WHAT IS A DEEP CLEANING?

As mentioned above, deep cleaning is another name for a procedure called scaling and root planing or SRP for short. For patients with periodontal disease, completely removing heavy tartar and buildup below the gumline can be difficult. 


Periodontal disease is an advanced stage of gum disease where the support structures around the roots of the teeth have become damaged. As the attachment of your gums moves lower on the root of your tooth, a pocket develops. A periodontal pocket allows plaque, bacteria, tartar, and even food debris to build up under the gums, leading to more damage to the gums and bony support.


Because it can be uncomfortable to remove these deep deposits, your dentist may recommend numbing during a deep cleaning. With a few easy injections, we can ensure you’re completely comfortable throughout. For anxious or sensitive patients, nitrous oxide can also help!


Your deep cleaning will likely be broken into sections to be completed on different days. Once all the deep deposits are fully cleaned from the root surfaces, your gums will start to heal. Although lost bone volume won’t regrow, much of the inflammation and damage to the gums is reversible. With good home care and regular maintenance as described above, we can stabilize your teeth and ideally help prevent loose and missing teeth due to periodontal disease.


4. ARE THERE DISADVANTAGES DENTAL CLEANINGS MORE THAN TWICE PER YEAR?

Many patients benefit from teeth cleanings more than twice per year. If you tend to build stains quickly, one or two extra teeth cleanings per year can help keep your smile looking bright. Similarly, patients who build plaque quickly may need more frequent cleanings even if their gums are healthy.


Some health conditions also make frequent cleanings beneficial. Pregnancy, diabetes, and certain medications can cause increased risks for gum inflammation and cavities. Your dental team at Anderson Family Dental may recommend tooth cleanings more than twice per year if your overall health puts you at higher risk for oral health problems.


There are no disadvantages to teeth cleanings more than twice per year from an oral health standpoint. However, many dental insurances only offer coverage for two teeth cleanings per year, meaning that a third or fourth visit may be an out-of-pocket expense for you. It can also be difficult to find time in your schedule to make frequent tooth cleaning visits. That’s why Anderson Family Dental offers early morning dental appointments in Winter Park, FL. With appointments as early as 7am, you can get convenient early morning visits with a dentist near you before your workday starts!


5. IS IT NORMAL TO HAVE PAIN DURING DENTAL CLEANINGS?

Ideally, patients with good oral health should not experience much discomfort during dental cleanings. In fact, many patients find the process relaxing! However, many patients suffer with tender gums and sensitive teeth.


If you have pain during dental cleanings, let us know! We have many ways to help you enjoy a more comfortable dental cleaning. If your gums feel tender during dental cleanings, we have numbing gels and local dental anesthesia that can help. For patients with sensitive teeth, we can recommend products to help lower your sensitivity leading up to your appointment, making the process much more comfortable. Nitrous oxide is also an option for many patients who struggle with painful dental cleanings. Don’t hesitate to discuss your discomfort with us so we can help you find the right solution!


6. HOW DOES REGULAR TEETH CLEANING HELP MY WHOLE BODY STAY HEALTHY?

Maintaining excellent oral health not only protects your teeth and gums. It also helps your whole body stay healthy! The links between whole body wellness and oral health are well established. Oral health has proven links to heart health, pregnancy outcomes, and risks for other diseases such as pneumonia and certain cancers. 


Regular teeth cleanings can play a key role in protecting your whole-body wellness by helping to decrease strain on your immune system and prevent excess bacteria from traveling from your mouth to other parts of the body where they can cause problems. 

At Anderson Family Dental, our mission is to help you enjoy a better quality of life through excellent dental care. One of the best ways to protect your oral health is getting your teeth cleaned every six months, four months, three months, or at any interval that works best for you! Schedule your new patient exam or next routine cleaning in our office today!

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