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. If not removed, the inflammation will progress into gum disease. In addition to checking your hygiene, a dentist will do an oral exam and check for decay, infections, abscesses, or abnormal growths, such as cancerous lesions.

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 your dental office can strengthen your enamel and help your teeth resist acidic attacks from bacteria and sugar that causes 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 before 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 forming calculus (also known as tartar). The longer the calculus resides in your tissues, the bigger the space between your gum and teeth become. While the calculus is forming pockets, it allows other harmful bacteria a chance to attach to the already formed bacteria. The longer you let the calculus 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 can only be controlled through more frequent dental cleanings as well as good oral home care with regular brushing and flossing.

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

Yes! Seeing your 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.