Are dental cleanings really necessary? Dentists like myself say that routine dental check-ups and hygiene appointments are vital to a person’s oral and overall health. It’s hard to believe that I still meet people here in downtown Calgary that argue that there’s no real need for an annual teeth cleaning, let alone going to the dentist twice a year.
According to recent research in the U.S., only a little over half of those polled go to the dentist on a regular basis.
Is going to my downtown Calgary dental office every six months for a cleaning really that important?
What happens every time you skip a dental cleaning
To help my patients see why regular dental cleanings are important, I thought it would be interesting to look at what happens to the mouth every time a cleaning is skipped.
1. Skipping your six-month cleaning:
Skipping one cleaning might not seem like a big deal. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not as bad as missing five years of cleanings. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its ill effects.
Missing one hygiene appointment will likely result in the early stages of gum disease. Namely, gingivitis.
Gingivitis results in puffy gums that bleed when you brush or floss. They may also be tender to the touch. Gingivitis is the result of overgrowth of bacteria in and around the roots of your teeth. These bacteria are causing an inflammatory reaction in your mouth. As well, these bacteria are actually entering the blood circulation and travelling around the body.
Besides gingivitis, patients may begin to develop small dental cavities. At this point, they won’t be aware of tooth decay because tooth decay is asymptomatic. However, they will progress without a dentist’s intervention.
2. You’ve missed a whole year:
Gum disease will most likely have progressed at this point. It may not be very significant to you, but if a dentist or hygienist were to examine your teeth and gums at this point, there’d be some definite concerns.
Gum pockets will be deeper, meaning it will be harder to remove plaque, food debris, and bacteria that were caught in them. The gums will also be more inflamed and tender.
Dental decay will progress, though it may still be asymptomatic. However, it could result in some sensitivity to cold and/or sweet.
3. Two years later, still no dental cleaning:
After two years, gum or “Periodontal” disease is likely. There are four stages of gum disease. After two years, you might be at stage two or three which results in deep gum pockets and some bone loss and gum recession.
Cavities that haven’t been addressed may result in a toothache. If you experience lingering (30 seconds or more) sensitivity to cold or heat the tooth decay has reached the nerve.
4. After five years, this is what you can expect:
At five years and beyond, both severe gum disease and decay could be present. You could experience loose teeth and end up needing extractions.
Why people skip going dental hygiene appointments
People skip dental appointments for a number of reasons. The two most common are finances and fear.
1. Dentistry is seen as a low priority expense.
When it comes to finances, here’s what I tell the patients at my downtown Calgary dental office. When you skip a teeth cleaning, you’re really not saving money in the long run.
Twice a year dental cleanings are an investment. When you spend money on cleanings, you’re less likely to need more expensive dental treatments, like fillings, extractions, and deep cleanings to treat gum disease.
How can you pay for your teeth cleaning? First, if you have dental insurance you should be taking advantage of it. Many insurance plans cover dental cleanings and exams twice a year at 80%-100%.
If you don’t have dental insurance, try putting away $20-$50 a month into a savings account. Call this account “dental insurance.”
Another option is to ask your HR department or insurance company about a health savings account. Or, consider dental financing with Dentalcard.
People experience fear of going to the dentist for a number of reasons.
- Fear of pain. If it’s been awhile since a patient has gone for a hygiene appointment, we find that they’re afraid their gums will be extra sensitive. They believe that they have already formed gum disease and want to avoid experiencing pain during a cleaning.
- Fear of being judged. Some patients expect their hygienist to rant and rave at them for not coming sooner. We don’t believe in that here at our downtown Calgary dental clinic. And that can be said for most dentists and hygienists out there. Our goal is to educate and keep you healthy.
- Fear of needing expensive dental work. Yes, if you haven’t been to the dentist in a long time, it’s likely that you may need some work. Gum disease and cavities are a definite concern. But the truth is, the longer you put it off, the worse it’s going to get. Like I said before – get the issues fixed now and you’ll save money in the long run.
Save Your Teeth and Gums: Don’t Skip Out on Your Next Teeth Cleaning
All of us want to have the healthiest teeth and gums possible. Besides taking proper care of your teeth at home, the next best thing is to care for your teeth through regular teeth cleanings.
Getting your teeth cleaned at my downtown Calgary dental office is one step you can take to protecting your teeth from gum disease and cavities.
Regular cleanings are the key to preventing toothaches, decay, and pernicious gum disease. Getting your teeth cleaned every six months is an investment towards your dental and general health. And believe me – keeping your teeth for a lifetime is a great return on your investment.
Visit Your Downtown Calgary Dentist to Prevent Dental Diseases
If you want to keep your smile healthy, commit to a six month cleaning in addition to your annual dental exam. When you do this, your teeth, your smile, and your overall health will be better for it.
Has it been awhile since you’ve seen a dentist? Contact my office to schedule an exam. We’ll take care of you and help get your dental health back on track.
Dr. Curtis Westersund, D.D.S.
Dentist Calgary Downtown