How often should you get your teeth cleaned? What there is to know

Professional teeth cleaning is a procedure to prevent tooth decay and gum disease. Dentists and dental hygienists perform professional teeth cleaning in the dentist’s office, usually alongside a comprehensive dental exam.

The American Dental Association recommends going “regularly” to the dentist for a cleaning. For some people, the best frequency will be every 6 months or so. If you are at higher risk for gum disease, you may need see a dentist more frequently.

Let’s see how often you should get your teeth cleaned.

Some dentists recommend a visit every 6 months for a cleaning. This allows your dentist to examine your teeth and let you know if there is anything that needs to be treated, such as cavities or gingivitis.

There doesn’t seem to be a lot of research comparing people who go to the dentist twice a year with people who get their teeth cleaned less frequently.

In recent years, the 6-month standard has been deemed arbitrary by some experts. A 2013 study suggested that people who visit twice a year do not necessarily improve their dental outcomes in a statistically significant way.

This same study found that the frequency of dental visits should be determined in conversation with your dental professional, based on your specific risk factors for gum disease (periodontitis) and tooth loss.

You may be at higher risk for gum disease if you:

The research established a relationship between income inequality and oral health. People who don’t have dental insurance or the ability to pay for regular dental visits tend to have more cavities, more frequent dental injuries, and increased rates of gum disease.

This is a complicated topic and may be due to inequities and barriers to health care, but it does imply that going to the dentist regularly affects your dental health as well as your overall health.

There is no long-term research to answer the “how much is too much” question when it comes to cleaning teeth. It is possible that too frequent intervention will make your teeth more sensitive or damage the enamel of your teeth.

Repeated teeth cleaning can also be expensive, as you will most likely start paying entirely out of pocket. Even the most comprehensive dental insurance probably won’t cover more than two teeth cleaning appointments per year.

In general, your dentist should be able to advise you if you would benefit from professional dental cleaning more than twice a year.

The teeth cleaning procedure may vary from practitioner to practitioner, but these are the basic steps of a teeth cleaning visit. The whole process usually takes less than an hour. If you have sensitive teeth, a mild numbing agent can be applied to your teeth and gums before starting.

Cleaning

During this stage, also called scaling, tartar and plaque are removed from your teeth. Your dentist or dental hygienist will clean the hard-to-reach areas of your mouth using special tools to scrape off stubborn plaque. They will also clean the spaces between your teeth with special flossing technique and tools.

The hygienist may use a tool called a Prophy-Jet, which uses water, abrasive powders, and pressurized air to remove plaque, soft debris, and stains. They’ll rinse your mouth out at the end.

Polishing

Then your teeth are polished. Your dental professional uses a rotating head with dental paste to shine your teeth until they are perfectly clean.

Fluoride treatment

To prevent cavities, a dentist or dental hygienist can apply fluoride treatment to your teeth. This fluorinated treatment can be a paste, a gel or a varnish.

At the end of the cleaning, they can talk to you about good dental hygiene and recommend products to keep your teeth healthy at home.

Professional teeth whitening is different from teeth cleaning. Getting your teeth cleaned can make them whiter, but it’s not the same as going to the dentist specifically for whitening.

Getting your teeth whitened at the dentist usually involves a hydrogen peroxide rinse. This rinse is intended to remove stains from your teeth. There are other in-office whitening methods that your dentist can offer.

There are no standard clinical guidelines on how often you should have your teeth whitened. It is not considered a necessary part of oral health. For this reason, teeth whitening is generally not covered by insurance.

You should see your dentist at least once a year for an annual checkup. Generally, your teeth cleaning will be included in this visit. It is not advisable to skip this annual examination.

You can practice good dental hygiene to protect your teeth from cavities and reduce your risk of gum disease. This may mean that you don’t need to see the dentist as often simply because you need fewer visits for dental issues.

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about cleaning your teeth at the dentist.

How much does teeth cleaning cost?

Prices vary depending on your dental professional, as well as the cost of living where you see the dentist. It’s hard to set a range, but a standard cleaning can cost between $75 and $200 without insurance.

If you have dental insurance, one or two annual cleanings can be included per year and cost you nothing. You may have a preventive care visit that requires a co-payment, usually between $25 and $50.

If you’re concerned about the cost of a cleaning, call a dentist before your appointment to check your fees. You can also inquire about payment plans if you are unable to pay the full fee upfront.

How should I take care of my teeth between dental cleanings?

The best way to keep your teeth healthy between cleanings is to practice good oral hygiene. This includes brushing your teeth for 2 minutes, twice a day, as well as flossing once a day. Also familiarize yourself with effective brushing and flossing techniques.

Getting your teeth cleaned by a professional is an important tool for your oral health. The frequency of this procedure is best determined on a case-by-case basis with your dentist.

You should ask your dentist how often he recommends having your teeth cleaned based on your current oral health, family history, and risk factors for cavities and gum disease.

About Geraldine Higgins

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