In addition to brushing and flossing, the most effective method to protect your teeth and gums is by getting regular dental cleanings from your dentist. Failure to get regular dental cleanings puts you at risk for developing gum disease. To understand the importance of periodic dental cleanings, you must understand how gum disease works. Food particles accumulate on your teeth surfaces and form a buildup known as plaque. If plaque is not properly removed, it continues to harden and calcify forming into what is known as tartar or calculus. Tartar is impossible to remove from teeth with over-the-counter cleaning devices such as toothbrush or dental floss. Tartar harbors harmful bacteria which produce acids that gradually destroy your gums and supporting bone structure. Tartar continues to remain on your teeth surfaces if you don’t get a dental cleaning. Only a dental cleaning can remove tartar from teeth to eliminate the bacterial buildup to stop the damage being done to your gums and supporting bone structure.
Gum disease is divided into two major stages, known as gingivitis and periodontitis.
Gingivitis: Gingivitis is the earlier stage of gum disease where bacteria damage is restricted to your gum tissue and has not spread to your jawbone yet. Gingivitis is highlighted by changes in texture and color of gums where they become red, swollen, puffy and tender. You may also experience frequent gum bleeding episodes, especially when cleaning your teeth. The good news is that gingivitis is fully reversible if treated on time. Once the bacteria and tartar have been eliminated, your gums start to turn pink and firm again and gingivitis is fully eliminated. However, if left untreated, the infection continues to progress and spreads from your gums to your jawbone. This leads us to the next stage of gum disease known as Periodontitis.
Periodontitis: Periodontitis, or pyorrhea, is the more advanced and serious stage of gum disease where infection has spread to your supporting jawbone. Unlike gingivitis, damage sustained from periodontitis is not reversible. Once you lose your supporting jawbone, it is nearly impossible to replace it. Losing your supporting jawbone makes your teeth loose and mobile. If left untreated, periodontitis continues damaging your jawbone until your teeth become so loose that they end up falling out. It is not uncommon for patients with advanced periodontitis to lose most or all their teeth. In fact, periodontitis is the number one cause of tooth loss in the adult population.
Since placing sealants is quick, easy and pain-free, placing sealants is a good way of creating good dental habits in children. Consider this, if your child’s first visit for actual dental work involves needles and pain, this could create an everlasting fear of the dentist. On the other hand, a 15-minute pain-free sealant appointment is an excellent way of helping your child overcome his or her fear of the dentist, possibly creating good life-long dental habits. If your child is between the ages of 6 to 13, talk to Dr. Jazayeri to see if he or she is a good candidate for dental sealants.
Yes, gum disease is very common and about half the population over 30 years of age suffers from some type of gingivitis or periodontitis. Your risk for gum disease does increase with age and this ratio increases to around 2/3 of the population above age 65. In fact, a quarter of the population over 65 is missing all their teeth, the majority cases a result of untreated periodontitis.
The frequency of your dental cleanings varies based on factors such as home hygiene, teeth crowding, number of restorations present, medical history, etc. Most people need a dental cleaning anywhere from 3 months to 4 months to 6 months to once a year. Keep in mind that while it may be true that younger people need less frequent dental cleanings, gum disease can strike at any age.
Only your dentist can determine the status of your gums and how frequently you require a dental cleaning. We will inspect your teeth, measure your gum pockets, evaluate bleeding levels and examine your X-rays to determine a dental cleaning protocol that best fits your needs. Only after completing a thorough dental exam can you accurately determine how frequently a dental cleaning is needed. We promise that if you follow our instructions on home hygiene and receive your scheduled dental cleanings, we will keep your teeth and gums healthy for life!