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Beautiful Smile

Dental Cleanings

Regular dental cleanings are crucial for maintaining a beautiful smile and a healthy body. These cleanings, performed by dental professionals, go beyond regular brushing and flossing to remove built-up plaque and tartar that cannot be easily eliminated at home. Additionally, your dental professional can identify individual factors that may predispose a patient to inflammation and disease and can then educate patients on how to improve their care to maintain peak health.  Our clinical philosophy is based around the idea that "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." We really aim to empower our patients to understand optimize the complexity of their system, which includes their history, their environment, and their habits. 

Why are dental cleanings important? 

Plaque and Tartar Removal:

Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that forms on teeth and gums. Over time, it hardens and turns into tartar, which cannot be removed by brushing alone. Tartar buildup increases the risk of gum disease, tooth decay, and other oral health issues. Dental cleanings effectively remove both plaque and tartar, helping to maintain healthy teeth and gums.

Prevention of Gum Disease:

Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is a common condition that affects the gums and surrounding tissues. If left untreated, it can lead to tooth loss and even impact overall health. In fact, chronic periodontal disease has been linked to compromised systemic health conditions such as neurological disorders such as Alzheimers and dementia, as well as cardiovascular disease. Regular dental cleanings help remove bacteria and plaque that contribute to gum disease, reducing the risk of its development or progression.

 

Early Detection of Dental Problems:

During dental cleanings, dentists or hygienists thoroughly examine the mouth, teeth, and gums. This allows for early detection of dental issues such as cavities, cracks, oral pathology, and signs of gum disease. Early identification enables prompt treatment, preventing the problem from worsening and potentially requiring more extensive and costly procedures.

Fresh Breath:

Persistent bad breath, or halitosis, can be embarrassing and indicate underlying oral health issues. Dental cleanings help eliminate the buildup of bacteria that can cause foul odors, resulting in fresher breath and improved confidence.

Enhanced Aesthetics:

Dental cleanings can contribute to a brighter and more attractive smile. By removing surface stains and discoloration caused by certain foods, beverages, or tobacco use as well as reducing any gingival inflammation, cleanings help restore the natural brightness of teeth and can maximize the size of visible tooth structure, enhancing the overall aesthetics of one's smile.

 

Overall Health Benefits:

Oral health is closely linked to overall health. Poor oral habits and untreated oral infections have been associated with an increased risk of systemic conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and respiratory problems. Regular dental cleanings play a vital role in maintaining oral health, reducing the risk of these systemic health issues.

Periodontal disease

What is periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is a chronic bacterial infection that affects the gums and supporting structures of the teeth. It is caused by the buildup of plaque, a sticky film of bacteria, on the teeth and along the gumline. Patients can have a genetic predisposition to develop this condition, but habits will determine whether the disease is present or the patient demonstrates a healthy condition. The leading habits that influence development of periodontal disease include oral hygiene habits (brushing and flossing), the presence of a sleep-related breathing disorder (ie. snoring, mouth breathing), clenching and grinding, nutrition and supplementation, and hydration. 

Periodontal disease progresses in stages, starting with gingivitis, characterized by red, swollen, and bleeding gums. If gingivitis is not addressed, it can advance to periodontitis, where the infection spreads below the gumline, causing the gums to pull away from the teeth and forming pockets that become infected. Over time, these pockets deepen, resulting in bone loss and potential tooth loss.

 

How is periodontal disease treated?

(1) Scaling and Root Planing: This non-surgical procedure, also known as a deep cleaning, is often the initial treatment for periodontal disease. It involves removing plaque and tartar from above and below the gumline (scaling) and smoothing the tooth roots (root planing) to eliminate bacterial buildup and promote gum reattachment. Pending the severity of a patients disease, your provider may recommend performing the procedure using local anesthetic and/or nitrous oxide sedation. Additionally, the provider may recommend breaking the procedure up into two or more separate appointments, working on parts of the mouth at each visit. 

(2) Ongoing Oral Hygiene and Home Care: Consistent and thorough oral hygiene practices are vital for managing and preventing periodontal disease. This includes regular brushing with a soft-bristle toothbrush, flossing or using interdental cleaners to clean between teeth, and incorporating biocompatible mouth rinses if recommended by the dentist.

(3) Nutritional and Dietary Support: Our approach to periodontal disease emphasizes the importance of a nutrient-rich diet to support oral health and overall well-being. Incorporating anti-inflammatory foods, such as fruits, vegetables, omega-3 fatty acids, and probiotics, can help reduce inflammation and support gum health. High levels of vitamin D has been shown to be correlated with optimal oral health. Additionally, eliminating high inflammatory foods that are heavily processed or contain sugar (sucrose, not fructose) can have a very positive impact on oral and whole-body health. 

(4) Stress Management: Chronic stress can weaken the immune system and contribute to the progression of periodontal disease. Holistic treatment may include stress management techniques such as meditation, yoga, deep breathing exercises, or mindfulness practices to promote relaxation and support oral health.

(5) Resolving sleep-related breathing disorders: Pending the root cause of a patient's case, there are a variety of interventions (both over-the-counter and prescribed therapeutics) to address this chronic condition. 

(6) Additional Lifestyle Changes: Certain lifestyle factors can contribute to the development or progression of periodontal disease. Quitting tobacco products, exercising, and staying well hydrated can support the effectiveness of treatment and overall oral health.

(7) Biocompatible Materials: During your initial exam, we will recommend an individualized plan that includes various biocompatible materials to use in your daily routine. These materials are less likely to cause adverse reactions or sensitivity in patients, promoting overall health and well-being.

(8) Collaboration with Healthcare Providers: A holistic approach recognizes the importance of collaboration with other healthcare professionals. Occasionally, this may involve working closely with nutritionists, internists, ENTs, sleep physicians, functional medicine practitioners, or other providers to address underlying health conditions and develop an integrative treatment plan.

(9) Referral to Specialist: In more advanced cases of periodontal disease, surgical procedures and/or more advanced therapeutics (such as laser therapy) may be necessary to address your condition. These procedures aim to reduce pocket depths, regenerate bone and gum tissue, and improve the overall structure and health of the affected areas. Examples of advanced interventions include flap surgery, bone grafts, guided tissue regeneration, LANAP laser therapy. Fortunately, we have a really fantastic periodontist in Dorado to whom we refer, and we've seen great results in co-treating our patients. 

(10) Periodontal Maintenance: Following initial treatment, regular periodontal maintenance visits are crucial to monitor the condition and prevent disease progression. These visits involve professional cleanings, thorough examination of the gums, and reinforcement of oral hygiene practices.

Smiling Family

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: How often should I get a dental cleaning?

A: Dental cleaning frequency depends on individual oral health needs. In general, most people benefit from professional cleanings every six months. However, your dentist may recommend more frequent cleanings every 3-4 months if you have specific oral health concerns, such as gum disease or a history of tooth decay.

Q: Will dental cleanings remove stains from my teeth?

A: Dental cleanings can help remove some surface stains caused by coffee, tea, tobacco, or certain foods. However, deep intrinsic stains may require additional treatments like teeth whitening to achieve the desired results.

Q: Are dental cleanings painful?

A: Dental cleanings are typically not painful, especially if a patient has maintained good oral hygiene habits at home. During the process, dental professionals use specialized instruments to gently remove plaque, tartar, and stains. You may experience mild discomfort or sensitivity, particularly if your gums are inflamed or sensitive. Inform your dental hygienist about any discomfort you feel so they can adjust the cleaning technique accordingly.

Q: Can dental cleanings prevent gum disease?

A: Regular dental cleanings are an essential part of preventing gum disease. Cleanings remove plaque and tartar that can lead to gum inflammation and infection. Additionally, dental professionals assess your gum health during cleanings and guide proper oral hygiene practices to prevent gum disease.

Q: How long does a dental cleaning appointment usually take?

A: The duration of a dental cleaning appointment can vary depending on several factors, such as the amount of buildup, the overall health of your gums, and the thoroughness of the cleaning. Typically, dental cleanings last between 30 minutes to an hour. If you have periodontal disease, then a deep cleaning can take approximately 90-120 min, which is why this procedure is often broken into at least two separate appointments. 

Q: What can I expect during a dental cleaning?

A: During a dental cleaning, a dental hygienist or dentist will use special tools to remove plaque and tartar from your teeth, including those hard-to-reach areas. They will also polish your teeth to remove surface stains and make them smooth. If necessary, they may take X-rays or perform other diagnostic procedures to assess your oral health.

Q: Can I have a dental cleaning if I have sensitive teeth or gum disease?

A: Yes, you can still have a dental cleaning if you have sensitive teeth or gum disease. Dental professionals will adjust the cleaning technique and use techniques and instruments that minimize discomfort. They may also recommend desensitizing products or treatments to help manage sensitivity.

Q: Can I get "just a cleaning" without anything else?

A: In order to assess your periodontal health and determine what type of cleaning a patient needs, the doctor needs to perform a comprehensive exam, which includes the following:

  • A review of a patient's dental and medical history,

  • Discussion on habits such as nutrition, hydration, supplementation, sleep, breathing, and oral hygiene, 

  • Analysis of dental xrays

  • Analysis of 3D scan and occlusogram

If you have had full xrays within the past 12 months, then you can forward those to our office at admin@doradodentalwellness.com to use during your exam to avoid taking any unnecessary xrays. This comprehensive evaluation prior to a dental cleaning is in the patient's best interest to establish a baseline for overall oral health and to identify any contributing variables that can be improved to enhance overall wellness.  

After this initial evaluation, then a patient does not require an exam before each cleaning as long as health is stable, and instead can be seen for periodic exams once per year or more frequently based on change in patient needs or preferences. 

Remember, these FAQs provide general information, and it's essential to consult with your dentist or dental hygienist for personalized advice and to address any specific concerns you may have about dental cleanings.

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