The preventative measure of dental cleanings is exceptionally important for your oral health. A cleaning, sometimes called a scale and polish, when done regularly, keeps both your teeth and gums healthier. Every day when you eat, you are also feeding the bacteria that live in your mouth. Proper home dental care inhibits their ability to flourish, but eventually, with enough time, they build up and turn into plaque, a sticky substance that adheres to the surface of your teeth. If plaque is not taken care of, it hardens and becomes tartar. The bacteria that cause both plaque and tartar thrive on carbohydrates; the byproduct of their metabolizing of these sugars and starches is acid which can eat away at your teeth and gums, causing cavities, decay, and gum disease. While plaque is initially easy to remove with regular brushing and flossing, it can hide out in difficult to reach areas of your mouth and harden into tartar. Once this occurs, the rough surface of the tartar creates a perfect place for more plaque to stick and harden and it cannot be removed with brushing or flossing; it has to be scraped off by one of our dentists at a dental cleaning.
The health and condition of your gums can have a wide ranging impact on your overall health. Gum disease and plaque buildup has been found to have a correlation with heart disease, difficulty controlling blood sugar levels, stroke, some cancers, dementia, rheumatoid arthritis, and, for pregnant women, preterm delivery and low birth weight. Luckily, gum disease is both treatable and, oftentimes, reversible.
When gum disease is mild, it is called gingivitis and is easily treated with proper home oral hygiene, including brushing, flossing, and rising with an antiseptic mouthwash. Additional dental office visits for cleanings, as well as an antibiotic to help fight the infection, are also ways to effectively treat your gums. When gum disease is more advanced and has progressed to periodontitis, more intensive measures are needed. These may include scaling and root planing, intensive medications, a hydrogen peroxide rinse, and other methods which depend on the specifics of your case. It is important that you see one of our dentists if you suspect you may have gum disease in order to prevent it from progressing further and affecting your health.