Regular dental cleanings are an essential part of oral health care, for people of all ages, both young and old alike. In our experience at Dr. Emily Zaramella, DDS, some patients don't receive regular dental cleanings, and may not be aware of how important they are. Regular dental cleanings and dental exams can help you keep a healthy smile.
What is a Dental Cleaning?
A dental cleaning is a procedure in which a dentist or hygienist removes plaque and tartar from your teeth. Plaque is a sticky film that forms on the teeth, and tartar is a hardened form of plaque. Dental cleanings are essential for oral care because they can help prevent cavities and other dental problems. Regular dental cleanings allows the dentist to keep a regular eye on your teeth, monitor if any extractions are needed, and help prevent unnecessary tooth loss as a result of cavities and gum disease.
The dentist also uses dental x-rays (radiographs) as part of the dental examination process; these images help identify potential problems like tooth decay, cysts on gums, tumors in bones near teeth, abscesses around wisdom teeth, and impacted teeth food particles between molars, and jaw fractures. The dentist can then make recommendations for how to best address these issues. The hygienist will use special tools to remove plaque and tartar from teeth during your cleaning. A fluoride treatment may be used at some point during or after the procedure; this is especially important if you have any existing cavities that need to heal before being treated with fillings.
In your dental exam and cleaning, you will also receive an oral cancer screening. These are an important part of your dental appointment as well. During your exam, the dentist will check your head, neck, mouth, teeth, and gums for any abnormalities such as discolorations, lumps, or bumps. The early detection of oral cancer is important.
Dental Cleanings Are Especially Important As We Age
While people of all ages need to get regular dental cleanings, seniors are especially at risk for developing cavities and other dental health problems. For example, older adults have more difficulty chewing their food because they often lose teeth over time. This means that they're less likely to eat healthy foods like raw fruits and vegetables that can protect them from tooth decay. Seniors also tend to take medications with dry mouth as a side effect; this condition makes it difficult for saliva - which naturally protects against tooth decay - to form in the mouth properly. Furthermore, gum disease is common among senior citizens due to decreased circulation throughout the body (and therefore reduced blood flow), making it harder for gums to heal after an injury or infection.
How Often Should I Have a Dental Cleaning?
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends dental cleanings every six months. However, individuals with any existing oral health conditions may need to see the dentist more often than this. Make sure the dentist is aware of any medical issues or medications you are taking before performing a dental cleaning, as well as any cosmetic dentistry procedures like teeth whitening or fillings. These procedures can interfere with how well some prescription drugs work in the body.
To learn more about dental cleanings, contact Dr. Emily Zaramella, DDS today! We're always happy to help our patients find affordable solutions for improving their oral health. Call us today at 737-273-3303 to schedule an appointment!