Why Are Teeth Cleanings Necessary?

We need teeth cleanings for two very simple but important reasons:

  • To prevent diseases in the rest of the body like heart disease, dementia, and complications of diabetes (You may be surprised about that!)
  • To prevent tooth loss

The mouth is an area that’s completely different from the entire body, and it takes quite a beating. Because it’s such a unique environment, it requires special care. Teeth cleanings remove the buildup of plaque and tartar. This buildup is for the most part natural…kind of like how a boat picks up barnacles just by being in the ocean. But too much buildup leads to gum disease. The reason tartar needs to be removed is because your body sees it as a foreign invader. As with any other foreign invader, like a flu bug or an infection, your body “sends in the troops” using the immune system to fight off the infection. There is a battle in your mouth at all times, and the war is never over. Teeth cleanings level the playing field by keeping things in check.

Gum disease is when your body’s immune system is responding to this tartar buildup with inflamed and bleeding gums. The immune system response is successful at killing off invaders like infection and flu bugs, but at a cost: like a war, there are innocent bystanders that get slaughtered. As gum disease progresses, so does the destruction to your bone and tissues in your mouth. Your immune system is meant only to fight off infection for a short period of time — chronic activation of the immune system means it can get worn out and it won’t be as strong to fight off an illness. Chronic activation of the immune system can lead to diseases in the rest of your body. That’s why preventing gum disease reduces risk of stroke, heart disease, and dementia. At a certain stage, this damage is irreversible, so prevention is the best way to maintain overall health and keep beautiful teeth for a lifetime — and teeth cleanings are a critical piece of this prevention.

So what Is a teeth cleaning? A professional teeth cleaning is done by one of our hygienists – both Claire and Ann practice in the same fashion. They use tools to include an ultrasonic Cavitron, to remove tartar from your teeth — both above and below where the gum meets the tooth. They will explain what work is being done, why it’s being done, and why your teeth may be sensitive or why your gums are bleeding. Imagine when you’ve cut your hand — it swells up. The same thing happens to gums that are inflamed by the buildup of tartar, even more so than swelling in other parts of the body because gums have an incredibly rich blood supply.

Discuss this with Dr. Still and make sure to talk about your own status when it comes to gum disease. Part of the gum disease diagnosis involves the depth of the spaces (or pockets) around your teeth. Dr. Still takes initial measurements during your new patient Comprehensive Exam and Claire and Ann will measure this yearly thereafter. If you would like  copy of your pocket readings, ask Claire or Ann to print it out for you so you can easily see your problem areas and where you need to improve on your home-care.  Just as you want to know what your blood pressure is, you want to know what your pocket reading is and be aware of how it’s changing.

For more about your pocket readings and what the measurements mean, click below:

CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT WHY YOUR HYGIENIST IS CALLING OUT ALL THOSE NUMBERS!

As part of your teeth cleaning appointment, Claire and Ann will give you instructions on proper brushing and flossing techniques. Follow-through after a teeth cleaning is everything, so use this opportunity to get a full demonstration of what you should be doing at home to keep your mouth disease-free and healthy. Along with proper home care, they will tell you that it is extremely important to have your teeth cleaned and checked at least 2-4 time per year.