How Often Should You Have a Dental Cleaning?

How Often Should You Have a Dental Cleaning?

From an early age, most of us are taught the importance of brushing twice a day and flossing daily in order to keep our teeth clean and our mouths healthy.  We learn this from dentists, our parents, and our school teachers, so as we grow up, it becomes generally accepted that if we remain consistent about brushing and flossing, it’s enough to keep our teeth cavity-free and gums nice and healthy. But if that’s all you’re doing to maintain your oral health, you’re missing an important step: regular professional dental cleanings. Read on for more information about how often you should be visiting your dentist for regular checkups and professional dental cleanings


The importance of professional dental cleaning

Brushing and flossing is a great starting point for keeping your teeth clean. But plaque likes to hide in places where your brush can’t reach and your floss doesn’t go.  Dentists and dental hygienists are trained to look for signs of gum disease, tooth decay, and other dental issues that you may not be aware of. They also have the advantage of being able to look closely into your mouth in a way you can’t, even in the mirror. This allows them to see places where plaque has accumulated and hardened into tartar. Their specialized tools are designed specifically to remove the hard substances from your teeth that your toothbrush and floss can’t. When you miss out on your regular dental cleanings, you increase your risk of developing tooth decay and gum disease, which can lead to tooth loss and serious health complications, including heart disease and stroke. Regular dental cleanings are an essential part of keeping your teeth and gums healthy. 


What happens during a standard teeth cleaning procedure?

Although every dentist’s office may have its own particular way of doing things, there are certain things you can expect from any regular checkup and dental cleaning. Either your dentist or your dental hygienist will perform your cleaning. In general, you can expect:

  • An examination

A small mirror is used to thoroughly examine your teeth and gums for signs of decay, inflammation, tartar buildup, and oral cancer. X-rays may also be necessary. 

  • Tooth scaling

A specialized tool called a scaler is used to scrape the tartar (calcified plaque) from your teeth. In standard cases, this is done only on the surface of the teeth that’s above the gum line. But some people require a deep cleaning, which involves scaling the teeth below the gum line. This is often done with a topical anesthetic, as it requires pulling the gums back to access the lower part of the tooth. 

  • Polish and floss

An electric polisher and gritty polishing toothpaste are used to remove stains and to smooth away the rough surfaces of your teeth to help prevent further plaque buildup. The final flossing procedure helps to remove any plaque from between your teeth as well as any leftover polishing paste. 

  • Fluoride treatment

In some dental offices, fluoride is in the polishing paste, but in other offices, fluoride treatment is done separately. This may be in the form of a rinse, a gel, a foam, or a varnish.


How often should you have a dental cleaning?

Standard guidelines recommend that patients schedule a checkup and cleaning twice a year. But everyone is different, so your dentist may recommend that you come more often or suggest that you only need to come every nine months or a year.  Just because you brush and floss the way you’re supposed to doesn’t mean you should visit the dentist any less frequently, however.  There are several reasons why one person may need to visit the dentist more often than another, and some have little to do with how well you take care of your teeth at home. You may need to visit the dentist more often if:

  • You have softer tooth enamel, which makes you more prone to cavities. 
  • Your saliva contains lower levels of calcium, potassium, and other elements that keep teeth strong and healthy. 
  • You tend to consume a lot of sweets, sodas, and other acidic foods and beverages that erode enamel and make your teeth vulnerable to decay. 
  • You have gum disease and require deep cleanings to control the plaque and tartar beneath your gum line.
  • You love the feeling of a professional teeth cleaning as well as the peace of mind knowing that you’re in good oral health.


Visiting your dentist regularly also helps provide a good reminder of the importance of doing your part to maintain your oral health. For people who have gotten lax about their brushing and flossing routine, dental visits help them to recommit.  And for those who have remained consistent, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of satisfaction that comes from hearing your dentist praise you for doing a good job taking care of your teeth. 


Need a dental cleaning? Come see us at University Dental!

University Dental Family Dentistry and Orthodontics provides superior service in a comfortable environment. If you would like to schedule a dental cleaning and exam with University Dental, give us a call at (619) 582-4224 today.