The Importance of Regular Cleanings

Having your teeth professionally cleaned on a regular basis is fundamental to good oral health
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Having your teeth professionally cleaned on a regular basis is fundamental to good oral health

Cleanings are needed to remove plaque and tartar that accumulates, often in spite of regular brushing and flossing.  Generally speaking, professional dental cleanings fall into one of two categories, either routine cleanings or deep cleanings.  While both procedures are preventative in nature, deep cleanings usually are done only in response to specific need.  They tend to be a little bit more invasive, as they entail treatment to the root of the tooth beneath the gumline.  Because plaque and tartar buildup exists to some degree in virtually everyone, routine cleanings are generally done on a regular basis as the standard of care for most dental patients.


Tartar, also known as calculus, is basically residual calcium, most of which comes from your own saliva.  While your saliva contains tooth-strengthening calcium for a reason, the texture of this mineral as it builds up over time provides an ideal environment for bacteria to safely hide and multiply.  Many varieties of this bacteria are catalysts for tooth decay and gum disease.


What’s more, the initial accumulation of calculus can be very difficult to see against the backdrop of your teeth, which are largely composed of calcium to begin with.  People often don’t even notice their tooth-colored tartar buildup until it begins to compete for space with their teeth and gums!


Authorities on oral hygiene will tell you that destructive bacteria are the root of all evil.  Indeed they are to blame for many of the most common complaints people have regarding their dental health.  Your mouth, like the rest of you, is a very complexly woven system of mutually dependent components.  Once bacteria finds a safe haven in either your teeth or your soft tissue, it can quickly go about causing a variety of complications, and one complication often leads to another.


Once bacteria has accumulated in your plaque and tartar, the process typically advances in the form of cavities and gum disease.  Both of these conditions serve to nourish the bacteria and allow it to multiply while simultaneously creating additional habitat to house and protect the bacteria.  The degenerative effect this bacteria has on your gums leaves your teeth far more vulnerable, just as tooth decay compromises the ability of your gums to support the healthy teeth that remain.


It is not difficult for a vicious cycle to ensue.  Bleeding gums, sensitivity, bad breath, and tooth loss are all stops along the way of this downward spiral.  Eventually this bacterial attack can culminate in serious infection of the teeth, gums, or jaw bone, and from there can cause serious complications with any number of systems throughout your body.


Aside from good personal oral hygiene, routine or maintenance cleanings from your dentist may be the most effective preventative measure one can take to keep this destructive bacteria from taking hold.  Dr. Hutchison has a variety of tools to gently but effectively remove these accumulations from your teeth.  There is typically minimal discomfort, if any at all.


Routine cleanings are relatively inexpensive procedures, especially when you consider the variety of expensive and uncomfortable procedures you could be preventing in the process.  We’ll admit that there are certainly more exciting ways to spend an hour or two, but given the choice, we’ve found that most people prefer a routine cleaning to a filling or a root canal any day of the week.


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