Q: How often do I need to get my teeth cleaned?
A:The general recommendation from dentists, including me, is that you come in for a teeth cleaning every six months. I like to use this as a basic rule of thumb, but the six months rule certainly is not one size fits all.
That’s because tartar and plaque form in the mouth at different rates. I’ve seen a patient for a cleaning visit only to see them two weeks later for a scheduled filling and already see tartar forming on the teeth. I also have some patients that need to come in for a cleaning only every 12 months.
Think of it like taking your car in for service: Are you a fast driver that puts lots of wear and tear on your car, or do you baby your car, warm it up every morning and drive like the owner of a Zamboni in an ice rink?
Are you flossing and brushing regularly (and properly)? How soon would you need to take your car in for service? What type of driver are you?
Home care is vital in determining the rate of plaque buildup that is partially responsible for gum disease, as well as more serious conditions like heart disease. Good brushers and flossers (determined by the frequency and quality of doing so) of course will fare better and last longer before needing another cleaning.
Gum disease is 100% preventable, but once seen in the mouth it is not 100% curable, and is not as easy to arrest. This is why every six months is a good rule of thumb if that’s what ensures you’ll come in for cleanings regularly, but could be too frequent or too infrequent, depending on how much wear and tear and how many miles you’re putting on your teeth and gums. For this reason, we will work together to find a teeth cleaning schedule that works for you.
Dr. Mark Burhenne DDS