1. Most dental visits rarely end up with just a simple cleaning. As you may know dentists are required to have some current X-rays on hand before they are able to give you a dental cleaning. And once they take your X-rays it is very likely that they will find something else wrong with your teeth or gums. A new cavity, a leaking old filling, a cracked tooth, gum disease or who knows what else! And with 28 or so teeth in a healthy adult mouth it isn’t too difficult to find a problem or two somewhere!
2. Simple cleanings are not expensive, but they still costs something. While simple cleanings are typically not that expensive they still will cost you something. You may be discouraged from going in for dental cleanings because you feel they are not helping you out. If your cleanings appear to be rushed or you leave the dentist and still have stained teeth and your gums continue to bleed, then chances are the problem may be with the quality of your cleaning. Unfortunately you are not going to get quality care at every single dental office. If you feel that your cleaning sessions are unsatisfactory then either talk about it to your dentist or hygienist about improving them or consider switching to another dentist, one who will give you the cleaning your mouth deserves and doesn’t compromise the health of your teeth and gums!
3. Those who do a terrific job of cleaning their teeth benefit less from dentist cleanings. Some people are incredible when it comes to taking care of their teeth. They are constantly brushing and flossing, never suffer from bleeding gums, monitor their diet and sugar consumption carefully and live their whole lives cavity free and gum disease free. If this applies to you then you can probably opt to go for less frequent cleanings. We still suggest no less than one cleaning per year as this should be the absolute least we can safely recommend. For most people two cleanings a year makes the most sense. Just don’t postpone your cleanings for too long, you just never know when something will start going wrong.
NEXT >> How to Decide
Brushing vs. Dentist Cleaning: Dental Cleaning
1. Two cleanings a year should be enough in the absence of gum disease. If you don’t have gum disease you should be able to satisfactorily maintain your teeth on your own for 6 months or more until your next dental cleaning appointment. How do you know if you don’t have gum disease?
- You have good oral hygiene and brush and floss yoru teeth regulalry
- You have firm and pink gums which don’t bleed much
- You have shallow gum pockets that don’t trap a lot of food and bacteria and can easily be cleaned with a toothbrush and floss
- You follow a healthy diet and watch your intake of sugary and acidic foods
- You don’t smoke and you don’t have uncontrolled diabetes. Smoking and uncontrolled diabetes can both lead to gum disease despite great oral hygiene.
Your dentist will diagnose and determine if you have gum disease or not and tell you if you’re a good candidate for two cleanings a year or if you require more than two a year.
2. It’s just easier to comply with two cleanings a year. Going for three or four cleanings a year is a serious commitment and should be reserved for those who actually need it the most. For those of us with healthy gums and good home oral hygiene routines two cleanings a year works out best with our busy lifestyles. If we are brushing and flossing well and we don’t build up tartar and calculus on our teeth then going 6 months without a cleaning will not damage our gums and should be acceptable.
3. Dental insurances typically cover no more than two cleanings a year. Well the insurance companies have spoken and they’ve determined that two cleanings a year is sufficient in most cases so that is what they are paying for. Although to their credit some plans actually cover more cleanings a year with proper documentation of gum disease and risk factors but most dentists don’t feel like writing a long narrative in exchange for a small payment. For the majority of us two cleanings a year seems to be enough as we can rely on brushing and flossing and other oral hygiene products to maintain our oral health during the six months leading up to our next dental cleaning appointment.
NEXT >> How Often Should I get a Dental Cleaning: How to Decide
How Often Should I get a Dental Cleaning: Every 3 to 4 Months
How to Decide?
Answer the following questions:
- Do you have moderate or advanced periodontitis (advanced gum disease with bone involvement)?
- Do you have any loose teeth?
- Have you lost any teeth so far because of gum problems? Cavities don’t count, just gum or bone problems.
- Do your gums start to bleed just a few weeks or a month or two after you receive your dental cleaning visits?
- Do you have large gaps between your teeth that you constantly trap food?
- Do you have a lot of crowns, bridges or implants in your mouth that make it harder to clean and they bleed more when you are trying to clean them?
- When your gum pockets where measured during your dental exam, where most of the numbers being read out loud 4s and 5s or even larger numbers like 6, 7 or 8?
- Have you lost substantial bone support on your teeth already? This can best be judged by examining your X-rays.
- Are you over 50?
- Do you smoke or were you a long time smoker for a long time in the past?
- Do you have uncontrolled diabetes?
- Do you neglect brushing and flossing every day?
If you answered “yes” to most of the above questions then it might just be time that you started seeing your dentist a few extra times a year. Regardless of the reason, your gums and supporting bone are very valuable and you want to protect them. Once you lose them they are gone for life. Getting a few extra cleanings a year is a small price to pay for maintain stronger and sturdies teeth for many more years to come. And if you can avoid the more expensive periodontal treatments as a result then it also ends up becoming the more economical long term solution if you are planning on keeping your teeth.
If you answered “no” to most of the above questions then you’re probably fine with two cleanings a year for the time being. Of course, only a dentist can have the final say here so make sure to discuss this with your dentist.
The majority of population does just fine with two cleanings a year when they are younger and don’t have gum disease. If you can’t understand why your dentist is requesting more frequent cleanings then ask him or her to explain the reason to you. Keep in mind that if you haven’t been to the dentist for a while you may have to start off with a few extra cleanings your first year or two to get the situation under control before your dentist is comfortable enough placing you back on a six month cleaning protocol.
Not everyone with gum disease needs more than two cleanings a year. Only those with more advanced stages of gum disease who can’t do a good enough job removing the tartar and calculus from their teeth for the six month period need to come in more often. So if your gum disease is in its earlier stages and you commit to cleaning your teeth and gums thoroughly with a brush and floss and whatever other cleaning devices that may be required then you might just be able to reduce your dental cleaning frequency back down to every six months. But first show some commitment to improving your home oral hygiene before talking to your dentist on a future visit to see if you can safely do this.
NEXT >> How Often Should I get a Dental Cleaning: Every 3 to 4 Months
How Often Should I get a Dental Cleaning: Every 6 Months