You know your oral health is important. If you don’t take proper care of your teeth, it can affect many aspects of your overall health and wellbeing. One of the most important ways to care for your teeth is to visit your family dentist regularly. But how often do you really need to get your teeth cleaned?
Individualized Cleaning Recommendations
For many years, dentists recommended patients visit their dental office for a dental exam and tooth cleaning cleaning every six months. But recent research has found that this recommendation isn’t right for every person. The Canadian Dental Association now recommends consulting with your dentist to find out how often you need your teeth cleaned.
Why the Change?
A 2013 study published in the Journal of Dental Research found that frequency of dental visits is best based on a patient’s risk for periodontal, or gum, disease. Patients at a higher risk benefited from cleanings more often than every six months. Those at a low risk could have their teeth cleaned just once a year with no adverse effects. It’s important to get an individualized recommendation from your dentist after a thorough examination.
Periodontal Disease Facts
Periodontal disease is very common–in fact, seven out of ten Canadians will develop it in their lifetimes. It can range from mild gingivitis to more serious periodontitis. Gum disease is inflammation of the mouth that, if left untreated, can cause you to lose teeth. Your dentist can easily diagnose periodontal disease. Deep and frequent cleanings can help stop the spread of gum disease.
How Long Does a Dental Cleaning Take, and What Can I Expect?
Usually, dental cleanings take only 30 minutes to an hour to complete. A dental hygienist will use specialized instruments to remove plaque and tartar from your teeth. Some patients experience soreness and slight bleeding. After your cleaning, your dentist will often examine your teeth and may order x-rays of your mouth.
How to Take Care of Teeth Between Cleanings
No matter how often your dentist recommends cleanings, you will need to properly clean your own teeth at home. This should include a routine of brushing and flossing. Here are some tips for keeping your teeth clean:
- The Canadian Dental Association recommends brushing your teeth at least twice each day. They also recommend flossing at least once in a 24-hour period.
- Aim to brush for at least two minutes. To help you meet this goal, set a timer or play a favorite song while you brush.
- Toothpaste should contain at least 1,350 parts per million (ppm) of fluoride to protect your teeth from decay.
- Replace your toothbrush every three to four months. Toothbrushes with frayed bristles become less effective at removing plaque.
- If you’re not sure how to properly floss your teeth, ask! Your dental hygienist will be happy to show you the right technique.
Your teeth are as individual as you are. Your dentist can recommend an oral health plan based on your risk factors for periodontal disease and other aspects of your dental health. Visit your dentist for a cleaning as often as recommended, and you’ll find your overall health with benefit.
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