At Lake Lanier Smiles, our dentists and hygienists hear a lot of questions from patients about maintaining good oral health. Everyone knows that avoiding sugary foods and brushing and flossing are the best habits for healthy teeth–but there’s another practice that’s absolutely necessary if you want to keep your teeth for life: dental cleanings.
Unfortunately, self-care is not always enough to prevent the problems that lead you down a path to dentures. You can avoid candy and soda all your life, brush your teeth twice a day, and floss once a day—but still wind up with the cavities and gum disease that lead to tooth loss.
Why are dental cleanings so important for healthy teeth and gums?
Dental cleanings remove tartar (calculus) from tooth enamel. Even the most devoted of tooth-brushers cannot brush away plaque from every surface of the teeth. There are simply too many small surfaces in the mouth and too many difficult angles to get to. Plaque is the sticky biofilm made up of food particles and bacteria that makes teeth feel fuzzy after a long day. When that biofilm is not completely removed by brushing, it can calcify into tartar in as little as 48 hours. Once tartar has developed it is no longer water soluble and can only be removed with professional dental tools.
Why is tartar such a problem? Unfortunately, tartar is the favorite food of mouth bacteria. Once tartar has formed, it attracts greater amounts of bacteria, which excrete the acids that cause cavities. Without a dental cleaning to remove tartar, a cavity will form, sooner or later.
Dental cleanings prevent cavities. When you visit the dentist for a cleaning, we also conduct an examination to help us identify areas where enamel has become weakened by bacteria. These soft spots show us where cavities may develop. We can then treat these areas with fluoride, which remineralizes and strengthens the enamel.
Dental exams give us the opportunity to stop decay before it becomes serious. Dental exams also give us the opportunity to treat small cavities with fillings. Why is it important to stop cavities from spreading? If a cavity is allowed to advance and deepen, it may lead to the need for a root canal treatment or dental extraction. Without dental visits, you might never know that small cavities have developed, as they cause no discomfort at this stage.
Dental cleanings let us monitor gum health and help prevent gum disease. Many people are not aware that gum health is equally important as the health of your teeth. Gum disease is the number one cause of tooth loss, world-wide. This means that even cavity-free teeth may one day require extraction if the gum tissue becomes damaged by mouth bacteria. The best way to avoid gum disease is with good oral hygiene (flossing, especially), but dental appointments give us the opportunity to monitor the health of your gums. Identifying, monitoring, and treating gum disease (and its precursor, gingivitis) in its earliest stages are the best ways to prevent tooth loss down the road.
What Causes Tooth Loss?
The simplest answer to this question is neglect. Not giving your teeth and gums the attention they need is a surefire way to develop the type of problems that lead to tooth extractions. If you only go the dentist when a toothache develops, you’ve likely waited too long and already have a problem that compromises the health of your tooth.
When it comes to your teeth, prevention is the key to avoiding the problems that lead to tooth extractions. Visiting your dentist twice a year for dental cleanings is the best way to make sure small problems don’t advance into major catastrophes. Left on their own, your teeth and gums have no way to heal themselves. The rest of your body may be able to heal from small problems without medical intervention, but your teeth and gums are another story. If you hope to keep your teeth for life, regular dental cleaning appointments are the best way to ensure you stay in a state of good oral health.
At Lake Lanier Smiles, we go the extra mile to make dental care affordable for you and your family. Call our Buford, GA dental office today at (770) 831-0559 to find about our options for patients without dental insurance. We’ll set you up with an exam and teeth cleaning appointment with one of our dentists, so you can stay in a state of good oral health.