Why do I need to see a dentist every 6 months?

Seeing the dentist every six months is important for maintaining healthy teeth and gums. During your cleaning, a dental hygienist will remove any plaque, tartar, or stain. Drinks such as coffee, tea, or wine stain the teeth and are difficult to remove on your own. In addition to staining, plaque and tartar build very quickly after it is removed. If good oral hygiene habits are not performed daily at home, plaque will begin to form and harden below your gums causing bleeding and irritation. This irritation quickly leads to inflammation, and if not removed, eventually progresses to gum disease. In addition to checking your hygiene, a dentist will do an oral exam and check for decay, infections, abscesses, or abnormal growths, including cancer.

What is the purpose of a fluoride treatment?

Fluoride is a natural mineral found in many foods and water. Getting a fluoride treatment regularly at the dentist strengthens your enamel and helps the teeth resist acid attacks from the bacteria and sugars that cause decay. Children especially benefit from fluoride treatments while their permanent teeth are developing.

What is gum disease?

Periodontal disease is an infection of the tissues, causing inflammation of the gums and destruction of the tissues and bones that support your teeth. The disease is primarily caused by bacteria and plaque above and below the gums.  Gingivitis is the first stage to periodontal disease. During gingivitis, your gums will appear red, swollen, and bleed easily. At this point, it is reversible and preventable by getting a dental cleaning to remove the infectious bacteria as well as practicing good oral hygiene habits.

When the plaque sits in your mouth long enough, it will begin to harden, called tartar or calculus. The longer the tartar resides in your tissues, the more damage is done. The tartar makes its way in between your teeth and gums and forms pockets. While the tartar forms pockets and attaches to your teeth, it gives other harmful bacteria a chance to attach to the bacteria that is already present. The longer you let the tartar build up, the more likely your gums will begin to pull away and detach from the teeth. At this stage, the supporting bone, tissues and ligaments are destroyed. You may also start to see mobility. Once periodontal disease begins, you cannot reverse it. It is only controlled through more frequent dental cleanings as well as good home care with regular brushing and flossing.

I have braces, do I still need to get cleanings at my regular dentist?

Yes, seeing a dentist regularly during orthodontic treatment is important for maintaining good oral health. With braces, neglect in oral hygiene can lead to enamel stains, decalcification, and tooth decay. Without proper hygiene, it is easy for food particles to get trapped beneath brackets and wires. You should continue to see your regular dentist every six months, but some patients benefit from seeing the dentist twice as often, about every 3-4 months.