How Often Do My Teeth Really Need to Be Cleaned?

A man smiles while receiving dental care.

3 Minute Read:

The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends professional teeth cleanings twice a year for adults and children with healthy teeth and gums.

However, the number and type of professional dental cleanings you need to maintain or restore a healthy smile depends on several factors.

Most dental insurance companies (but not all) cover two exams and cleanings each year.

If your health insurance doesn’t cover two professional dental cleanings per year, or you don’t have dental coverage, most dentists will offer discounted cleanings and exams for their out-of-pocket patients.

Do I Need More Than Two Professional Dental Cleanings Yearly?

This question is one that more people should be asking. The fact is, there are several reasons why you may need additional dental cleanings. You may be at a higher risk of tooth decay, gum disease, and overall health issues if the following is true for you:

  • You smoke
  • You are diabetic
  • You are pregnant
  • You have gum disease
  • You have an auto-immune disease
  • You have chronic halitosis (bad breath)
  • You have chronic dry mouth (xerostomia)
  • You experience frequent bacterial infections
  • You are more prone than others to developing cavities or plaque and tartar build-up

Regular dental cleanings remove plaque and tartar (which harbor abundant oral bacteria) from your teeth. When this bacteria is left to multiply, it leads to infections, serious periodontal disease, tooth loss, and can even promote or aggravate systemic health issues, such as:

  • Diabetes
  • Dementia
  • Osteoporosis
  • Lung and heart disease
  • Premature labor and low birth weight babies
  • And more

5 Steps to Lowering Your Oral and Overall Health Risks

If you are reading this blog, you are probably ready to take the necessary steps toward improved oral health, thereby lowering your risk of tooth loss and the conditions mentioned above.

Here are five proactive steps you can take to ensure a healthy and attractive smile:

1. Brush Twice Daily for Two Minutes and After Sugary or Sticky Snacks

Keep your teeth and gums clean to protect them from damaging oral bacteria. Sugar feeds bacteria growth and sticky foods.

2. Floss at Least Once Daily, Preferably in the Morning & Before Bedtime

Cleaning the areas between teeth is essential to prevent bacteria from accumulating there and causing decay or gum disease.

3. See Your Dentist Twice Annually or More for Exams & Cleanings

Frequent preventative dental visits (for exams and cleanings) allow your dentist to catch any potential problems early and help you avoid cavities, gum disease, infections, and yellowing teeth.

4. Keep Your Mouth Moist Throughout the Day

While saliva helps protect your teeth and gums by neutralizing bacteria, a dry mouth is the perfect environment for cavities and gum disease to grow and spread.

Taking certain medications, like anticholinergics, antidepressants, benzodiazepines, and mood stabilizers, or having a condition that lowers the amount of saliva, like Sjögren’s Disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, or HIV/AIDS, can contribute to dry mouth. Snoring and breathing through your mouth can also cause your mouth to be dry.

The good news is that drinking water and using sugar-free lozenges or gum containing xylitol can help keep your mouth moist and protected.

5. See Your Dentist at the First Sign of Gum Disease, Which Include:

  • Red or inflamed gums
  • Any amount of blood after brushing or flossing
  • Gum and other soft tissue discomfort

While tooth decay can ruin your smile, gum disease can do that and more. By seeing the dentist promptly when spotting the earliest signs of gum disease, they can examine your teeth and soft tissues.

Chances are a simple deep cleaning (root scaling and planing) can help you prevent your condition from progressing to severe gum disease (periodontitis).

Your Compassionate & Gentle San Diego, CA Dentist

If it’s been a while since you’ve seen a dentist, please call (858) 281-0653 and make an appointment as soon as possible. Dr. Kohani and our entire team are dedicated to providing customized dental care in San Diego, California, that meets your unique needs.

Many people with dental anxiety or an extreme fear of the dentist avoid regular dental visits, which is detrimental to their smiles and overall health. If you suffer from dental-related anxiety or phobia, you can benefit from sedation dentistry, a service Dr. Kohani is happy to provide.