Why Are Regular Dental Cleanings (Hygiene Visits) Important?
Your smile communicates confidence and a sparkling smile can give you a more positive outlook on life. We don’t believe this is an exaggeration. We are the Savannah dentist office committed to bringing out your brightest smile.
Why does the American Dental Association and Dr. Schnabel recommend you come back every six months for a regular dental cleaning? Regular dental visits are vital in maintaining healthy teeth and gums.
How often should I have my teeth cleaned?
For most patients with average to excellent dental health, cleanings are recommended twice per year. However, existing dental problems may require more frequent visits. For example, if you are prone to cavities, we might recommend cleanings on a three-month schedule.
For those who are undergoing extensive dental work, we might need to clean your teeth even more frequently during the duration of your treatment plan. We will always explain exactly what to expect based on your individual needs, and we encourage you to ask questions about anything that is unclear.
What causes cavities?
No matter how clean you keep your mouth, the reality is that it is filled with both good and bad bacteria. Some kinds of bacteria combine with proteins from your saliva to form a film known as plaque, which attaches to your tooth enamel.
Although tooth enamel is quite hard, the acids created by the bacteria’s digestion can erode the mineral salts in the enamel. Sugary foods and drinks provide food for the bacteria, as well as a source for the glue they produce to attach to the teeth.
A cavity is a small hole in the tooth enamel created by this process of erosion. Over time, the bacteria can invade deeper into the tooth structure, causing larger cavities and even reaching the tooth root.
Older metal fillings can contribute to the problem, as they do not bond tightly enough to the tooth to lock out bacteria. This allows bacteria to enter the inner portions of the tooth without first tunneling through the tooth enamel.
Why should I get regular dental cleanings?
For those with healthy, strong, teeth and gums, dental cleanings are generally recommended twice per year. Many people believe that this is simply to keep their teeth pearly white, and it is true that professional cleanings will enhance your smile. However, the benefits of regular dental cleanings go far beyond simple appearance.
There is a strong link between poor oral health and deteriorating physical health. In fact, those with untreated dental disease are at a much higher risk for a stroke or heart attack. Regular cleanings ensure that any new cavities, gum disease, or other issues are caught and treated quickly before they become serious.
In addition, at your regular appointments, we will thoroughly check for other potential health concerns, such as TMJ, swollen lymph nodes in the neck, and changes that could indicate oral cancer. Regular cleanings are a quick and easy way to ensure that your mouth, head, and neck are in excellent shape.
What is fluoride treatment?
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that has been proven to help fight cavities. It is added to the municipal water supply in most areas of the United States, and fluoridated toothpastes are readily available. However, those at moderate to high risk for cavities may benefit from a professional fluoride treatment.
In this simple procedure, fluoride in a gel, foam, varnish, or solution form is applied to the teeth with a brush, cotton swab, or tray, and allowed to sit for several minutes. You will be asked not to eat or drink anything for 30 minutes to give your teeth more time to fully absorb the fluoride. Depending on your unique oral health, you may need fluoride treatments once, twice, or even four times per year.
What is dental sealant?
Dental sealant is a thin layer of protective plastic that is painted onto the back teeth. As it hardens, it molds to the individual depressions and grooves on each tooth. This creates a smooth surface that seals out the debris and plaque that cause decay. It is most often used for children aged 6 to 14, but may be appropriate for adults with no existing decay, as well as baby teeth that are at high risk.
Dental sealant generally lasts for around 10 years, and is often covered by insurance. At each checkup, your dentist with examine the sealant for chipping, and replace it as needed.
What is a dental deep cleaning?
Dental deep cleaning is a procedure done by a dental hygienist to treat gum disease. It is most often necessary after missing a few regular teeth cleaning appointments, but could be needed despite your best efforts at oral hygiene if you happen to be predisposed to gum disease.
Your dental hygienist will use a probe to check the depth of any pocketing between your teeth and your gums. Ideally, those pockets should be 3 millimeters deep or less. If they are more than 5 millimeters, you will need a deep cleaning, also known as scaling and root planing.
The dental deep cleaning can be done with a variety of different manual, electric, or ultrasonic tools. Regardless of which tools are used, the goal is to remove plaque and tartar from both the surfaces of the teeth and the insides of the pockets. You may be scheduled for a follow-up appointment to ensure that the treatment was successful in reducing the pockets.
Your dentist may prescribe an antibacterial mouth rinse for you to use in the days or weeks following your dental deep cleaning. In most cases, the pockets will reduce once the bacteria and debris is removed. If the procedure is unsuccessful, however, you may be referred to a periodontist for additional treatment options.
Teeth cleaning appointments prevent heart attacks?
Not only are your teeth a key part of your personality but regular dental care can prevent serious health issues. Research has proven a link between the advanced stages of gum disease and health problems like diabetes, stroke, and heart disease. Over time, plaque and tartar can form in some areas even with meticulous brushing. When tartar collects below the gum line, gum infections can result and can lead to tooth loss or gum disease.
How long has it been since you’ve visited a Savannah dentist?
In addition to a great smile, we want you to have healthy teeth and gums. One of the most important reasons to visit a dentist is to keep your teeth clean and identify any emergency dental problems you may be experiencing. Having your teeth professionally cleaned can identify dental problems that you may not be aware of.
In the midst of our busy lives, a dental visit is often delayed. Regular dental cleanings get skipped. The longer you go without a trip to the dentist the harder it is to put forth the effort to make an appointment. We understand, but we won’t let you off that easily!
Can I wear makeup to my dental appointment?
You can, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should. Dental procedures involve placing hands, tools, and water inside your mouth. Depending on exactly what you are having done, your mouth may also be numbed. Since the area around your mouth will likely get messy, it’s best to skip the lipstick, foundation, and full face powder. There’s nothing wrong with using a bit of mascara or a touch of blush, but less truly is more for a dental appointment. If you’re heading to work or a social engagement after your appointment, you can always freshen up and apply makeup in the restroom on your way out.
Does chewing gum hurt my teeth?
Like so much in life, it depends. Sugar-containing chewing gum can increase your risk for tooth decay and gum disease, as it feeds bacteria and promotes plaque. Sugarless gum, though, can actually be good for your teeth. In fact, some sugarless gum carries a seal of approval from the ADA (American Dental Association).
Chewing sugarless gum promotes the flow of saliva, rinsing bacteria from the mouth and reducing the risk for tooth decay. Although it is no substitute for brushing and flossing, chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes following a meal is an excellent way to cleanse the mouth when brushing is not possible.
We recommend regular cleanings by our hygienist to help you keep overall good dental health. In fact, we suggest a full set of x-rays if you don’t have current dental x-rays on file with another office.
What is the best toothbrush?
Until not that long ago, you had very few options when it came to choosing a toothbrush. Today, though, the shelves are filled with different varieties, all claiming to be the best. In truth, though, there is no single best toothbrush, only the one that is best for you. Here’s what to consider:
ADA Approval: The one factor that you absolutely must look for is certification from the American Dental Association (ADA). This ensures that the toothbrush has undergone rigorous testing for effectiveness and safety.
Electric vs. Manual: Electric toothbrushes generally win out for those whose hand strength or finger dexterity is limited, as the toothbrush will do the work. They are also good for those who are not good about brushing each quadrant of the mouth for a full 30 seconds, as many electric toothbrushes will beep when it is time to change quadrants. If you have full use of your hands and arms, and use other techniques to keep up with how long you are brushing, the choice is really yours.
Bristle Softness: Although toothbrushes with medium and hard bristles are readily available, a soft-bristled brush is normally the best choice, especially for those who brush vigorously. It is possible to damage your tooth enamel and gums by brushing hard with a medium or hard-bristled toothbrush.
Size: The toothbrush head should be properly sized for your mouth, allowing you to easily access even the backs of your molars. The handle should be long and stout enough for you to hold and manipulate it comfortably.
Other Features: Some toothbrushes have angled heads, several types of bristles in different sections of the head, and other features that are purported to make toothbrushing easier. While there is nothing wrong with these features, scientific evidence for their effectiveness over a traditional brush is limited. Choose a brush that feels comfortable to you, whether or not it has fancy features.
Is an electric toothbrush worth the money?
Although electric toothbrushes have been available in the United States since the 1960s, it is only recently that the public has begun to understand their advantages. An electric toothbrush costs more initially than a manual toothbrush, but it also lasts longer. It needs little maintenance other than occasionally changing the head and recharging the battery, and can last for many years.
Electric toothbrushes have two major advantages. First, they eliminate the guesswork. Proper brushing requires you to brush for 30 seconds in each quadrant of your mouth, but most people are terrible at counting time. A good electric toothbrush beeps every 30 seconds, alerting you that it is time to change quadrants.
In addition, an electric toothbrush is easier to use. If you have issues with physical dexterity, it can be tough to properly position a manual toothbrush and apply just the right amount of pressure. Little kids and those with crooked teeth and braces often have trouble reaching all the nooks and crannies of their teeth. Some people even brush too hard, damaging their tooth enamel.
An electric toothbrush does most of the work. Simply use the large, comfortable handle to move the toothbrush to each quadrant of your mouth, and it will apply just the right amount of force to all areas of the teeth and gums.
What happens during a regular visit to our Savannah office?
Checking your teeth for cavities and cleaning your teeth is only part of a thorough examination. This is our opportunity to find out if you’ve been having any discomfort and allow Dr. Schnabel and the hygienist to inspect your overall dental health.
Following a conversation with the hygienist your appointment will include:
- Examination of your facial structure
- Examination of your neck
- Checking your lymph nodes
- Checking your lower jaw joints or TMJ’s
- Examination of the gums
- Checking for loose teeth
- Examination of the tissue inside your mouth
- Checking your bite
- Checking for signs of tooth decay
- Checking for broken teeth
- Checking for damaged fillings
- Examination of existing dental work, bridges, fillings, crowns, implants, etc.
- Taking X-rays (if needed)
- Removing plaque and tartar
- Polishing teeth
- Flossing between teeth
- Providing instructions on improvements to dental hygiene
- Discussion about any cosmetic dentistry procedures you have requested
- Answering questions about your current condition
Do you have anxiety about seeing the dentist?
If you have dental anxiety, we have multiple options for making your visit as relaxed as possible.
Levels of sedation include:
- Minimal sedation: You’re awake but relaxed.
- Moderate sedation: You’re more relaxed and may not remember much of your procedure.
- Deep sedation: You are deeply sedated but can be awakened quickly.
- General anesthesia: You are completely unconscious.
If this page has convinced you it’s time to schedule an appointment, give us a call today and we promise you’ll enjoy the visit.