Written by Karli Bock, RDH
For most people, when we think of dentistry, prevention is usually not the first thing that comes to mind. However, preventive care is one of the most important aspects of dentistry today. As in the medical field, we are focusing more on how to prevent the source of disease and less on treating the symptoms. Very few people know problems in your mouth can affect the rest of your body. Research has shown that there is a correlation between gum disease and heart disease as well as diabetes.
How do we prevent gum disease? There are large amounts of bacteria that live in your mouth. While most of them can be taken care of by daily brushing and flossing, dental cleanings are just as important. Most people have dental cleanings every 3-6 months. We call these “healthy mouth cleanings”. The cleaning is where a dental hygienist removes the bacteria that cause plaque and calculus (tartar) that builds up on the teeth. Plaque is tooth-colored or white sticky film that adheres to the tooth. Calculus is a mixture of plaque and saliva by-products that calcifies onto the tooth surface. The dental hygienist removes these by scaling (the process of using dental instruments that removes plaque and calculus) and polishing the teeth. This leaves the teeth feeling smooth and shiny so that it is easier for the patient to keep their teeth clean by regular home care.
For people with gum disease, they might require a more extensive dental cleaning. We call this a deep cleaning or scaling and root planing. The reason some people need this treatment is because of bacteria and tartar down below the gum line where they cannot reach. This plaque and tartar build up below the gum line cannot be brushed or flossed out; this has to be removed by a Dentist or Dental Hygienist. This tartar contains thousands of units of bacteria and is a contributing factor to what causes bleeding, gingival recession, cavities, bone loss, and tooth loss. In fact, more teeth are lost due to periodontal disease (gum disease) than cavities.
While dental cleanings make the teeth feel cleaner and look whiter by removing surface stains; they also help prevent gum disease and contribute to your bodies overall health. With regular dental exams early detection of any dental problem is likely, meaning less visits to the office.
Dr. Aaron Jones
Highland Park Dental
6725 Hillcrest Avenue
(next to Starbucks in Snider Plaza)
Dallas, Texas 75205