How Often Should I Get A Dental Cleaning?

12 May 2024

Dental disease is preventable. Fact. If you’re looking for the easiest way to look af-ter your smile, keep your mouth disease free and your breath fresh, you need to be enrolling yourself on a regular dental cleaning schedule. That’s not all. Did you know dental cleaning also helps to improve and support the overall health of the body including heart health, pregnancy and brain function.

Let’s take a closer look at what’s involved and what might influence how often you’ll need to have a dental cleaning.

Why Is Dental Cleaning Important?

More adult teeth are now lost through gum disease than tooth decay, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Investing in regular dental cleaning reduces the risk of developing gum disease and is essential for keeping your teeth healthy. Regular visits to the hygienist combined with regular dental visits and a good home-care routine, will greatly improve your oral health and reduce your risk of developing disease. It also helps to keep your teeth looking clean, bright and healthy.

What’s Involved In Having A Dental Cleaning?

Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria also known as dental biofilm, that grows on the teeth and gums. If left undisturbed, it starts to harden and form calculus deposits on the teeth often referred to as tartar. Once tartar has formed, it can’t be removed with regular oral hygiene and needs to be removed with professional dental cleaning. Leaving it in place can help more bacteria to grow by increasing the areas where plaque can stagnate. The more plaque there is, the more gum inflammation you’ll have and the higher the risk of disease.

By scheduling regular dental cleanings, your dental hygienist or dental professional can manage your plaque build-up, remove any tartar that has formed, give you tips on how to improve your daily home-care regime and screen you for early signs of gum disease, tooth decay and oral cancer.

Your dentist or dental hygienist will use specially designed equipment to remove the deposits from your teeth. There are different ways this can be done. Traditionally hand scalers were used and still are to this day although more commonly mechanical ultrasonic scalers that spray water while breaking down the tartar are used. Stain removal is usually done using a polishing paste although this has its limitations and can be abrasive on the tooth enamel. More recently, dentistry has seen a rise in the use of air polishing systems which are fast becoming the modality of choice for effective stain removal and biofilm management.

During your dental cleaning visit, your dentist or dental hygienist will also spend some time looking at the effectiveness of your oral hygiene regime and recommending changes where necessary. They may also complete diet analysis which will help to highlight factors in your diet that can be improved to reduce your risk of tooth decay.

Although still relatively new to the market, some clinics will carry out saliva testing to analyse for specific bacteria that may make you more susceptible to dental disease.  It is also becoming more common in patients who present with gum disease, to have the levels of sugar in their blood tested. This is because of the strong bidirectional relationship between gum disease and diabetes and is carried out with a simple finger prick test.

How Often Should I Have Dental Cleaning?

Every mouth is different and there are different factors that influence how often dental cleaning is required. For those patients with a low risk of developing disease, a dental cleaning is usually recommended once or twice a year. Patients may choose to attend more frequently if stains built up before their next scheduled visit. That said, some of the traditional polishing pastes can be abrasive so it’s always best to speak to your dental advisor about how often polishing is recommended for your teeth.

Air polishing systems that use a soft powder to remove stains, for instance the Guided Biofilm Therapy, places no limit on the frequency with which dental cleaning can be carried out.

For those patients with a moderate or high risk of developing disease, the recommendation is usually no less than every quarter (four times a year) It would also be recommended that these high-risk patients increase their dental check-up frequency.

Stress, the menopause, diabetes, smoking, vaping, poor diet, poor oral hygiene, overuse of mouthwashes, a diet rich in stain causing food/drinks and those with a existing or a history of gum disease, can all influence the frequency that dental cleanings are required.  It’s important to follow the advice of your dental clinician and ask how they came to the decision if you feel unsure.

Tailoring Your Dental Cleaning Schedule

While things like age and genetics can’t be changed, personal oral hygiene and life-style choices can be. Focusing on making adjustments to your daily cleaning routine is the biggest factor in preventing dental disease and maintaining oral heath between cleanings.

Rinsing your mouth with water after consuming things that might stain your teeth, will help to prevent the stains from sticking. Chewing sugar free chewing gum after eating/drinking will also help to reduce stains and will give you the added benefit of stimulating saliva, which helps to cleanse the mouth.

Brush your teeth twice daily, ideally with an electric toothbrush and use a good fluoride toothpaste. Spit don’t rinse out after you’ve brushed to give the fluoride time to be absorbed. Avoid whitening toothpastes that are abrasive as these can damage the enamel while removing surface stains. An important factor to consider when choos-ing a toothpaste is the RDA value (Relative Dentine abrasivity) ie how abrasive it is. Anything under 70 is ideal for a daily toothpaste. Anything over 70 should be re-stricted to occasional use only.

Flossing or using interdental aids is an essential part of cleaning our teeth properly. This should be done every time you brush to remove food particles and ensure no plaque is left behind.

Routinely using a mouthwash can actually contribute to teeth staining if used at the wrong time. If you want to use a mouthwash, use it at a separate time to brushing for instance in the middle of the day. Never use immediately after brushing. Always choose a mouthwash containing essential oils and avoid those containing chlorhexidine as this will stain the teeth.

To keep teeth looking clean between visits, try to limit your intake of food and drinks that are known to stain teeth. Top contributors include tea, coffee, red wine, tobacco, blueberries and some mouthwashes. By reducing your intake or cleaning your teeth after consuming, you’ll find your teeth stay brighter looking for longer periods of time.

How Will I Know If I’m On The Right Track?

Consulting with your dentist or dental hygienist to help you establish the right dental cleaning frequency for you and establishing a personalised dental care plan, will help to support the health of your mouth long term and keep your smile looking bright and fresh.

Prevention is key and regular biofilm disruption is pivotal in the prevention of dental disease which in turn prevents expensive treatment plans & lengthly dental visits further down the line. It’s better to take action now before it’s too late.

Visit (GBT website) to learn about GBT and where you can find your nearest GBT clinic for an assessment of your dental cleaning needs and for a feeling of freshness like no other.