Cleaning Beyond What You Can Do At Home

oral healthA good home dental hygiene program is critical to avoiding all sorts of dental issues. But it isn’t a substitute for professional twice-yearly cleanings and exams with Dr. Miller and his team. If you want to get downright technical about it, the term for these cleanings is oral prophylaxis, and it’s something you need to keep in your phone’s calendar so you don’t miss your appointments.

Here are the reasons and pluses for professional cleanings and exams.

It’s like a deep cleaning for your teeth

The goal of oral prophylaxis isn’t simply to shine your teeth with that gritty paste we use at the end of the cleaning. Sure, it gets rid of much of the coffee staining we accumulate here in coffee-addicted Oregon. But the real goal is to remove the accumulated plaque and tartar that have built up on your teeth. Every day plaque forms on your teeth and you remove it with your trusty toothbrush and piece of floss. But you can’t get rid of it all, so it hardens into what is known as tartar. Everyone has places in their mouth where tartar develops — even the most diligent usually build tartar on the inside of the lower front teeth. The problem with tartar is that, unlike plaque, tartar can only be removed by a professional hygienist or dentist through the use of dental pics. If you do let tartar accumulate, it begins to take up residence under your gumline and that is the start of gingivitis and gum disease.

In case you wonder about the six-month timeframe for professional cleanings, it’s about tartar formation. It takes about six months for enough tartar to form that you can begin to create bigger problems by not removing it.

Keep gum disease as an afterthought

When you let tartar rule your mouth, you’re headed down the road to gum disease. First, your gums will become irritated (gingivitis). They will become red and slightly swollen. They will bleed easily. From there, the gums will pull away from the teeth, forming convenient little pockets for bacteria to live. Now you’re moving into periodontitis (gum disease), and the future is lost teeth and jawbone deterioration.

If you think gum disease is all you’ll ever get from poor dental hygiene, think again. Excessive tartar growth can begin to involve the body’s immune system, as it tries to get rid of it. And infections that begin in your gums can spread, even leading to increased chances of heart disease.

A few minutes with the dentist can do wonders

Every six months, that’s when you need to schedule your regular cleanings and exams with Dr. Miller. Beyond keeping your teeth white and removing the tartar buildup, we also check for signs of oral cancer.

Take care of your teeth and your smile, and they won’t come back to bite you. Call us at 503-640-9310 to make your next appointment.

Posted in: Oral Health

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