Why Do We Get Cleanings Twice Per Year?

There are many reasons that we get cleanings twice a year. In short:

  1. To clean hard buildup and deposits that neither a toothbrush nor floss can remove
  2. To screen for oral cancer
  3. To check for cavities

Cleaning Hard Buildup and Deposits
We all have bacteria in our mouths. When we eat food, so do the bacteria. This combination of bacteria and food is what we refer to as “dental plaque” or “biofilm.” Plaque constantly builds up on our teeth and it is the culprit behind cavities and gum disease. The bacteria especially love it when we eat sugary foods. Bacteria metabolize the sugar and produce acid, which eats away at our teeth. This acid weakens (demineralizes) our teeth and causes cavities.

Our saliva contains calcium and phosphate ions, which helps remineralize (think “calcify”) our teeth and protect against the acid. The calcium and phosphate in saliva don’t just work on teeth- they work on the dental plaque as well. Over time the saliva turns the plaque into calculus, also referred to as tarter. (Think of it as the calcium “calcifies” the dental plaque and we get calculus). Dental plaque must be removed on a daily basis in order to minimize the amount of hard calculus that forms. Plaque is removed by brushing and flossing. Brushing removes the plaque on the outside of your teeth and gums and flossing removes the plaque caught between your teeth.

Although brushing and flossing will greatly reduce the amount of dental tartar that forms, it can’t stop it completely. Once calculus forms, it can only be removed by a dentist or hygienist. We have special instruments at Moshman Dental such as ultrasonics, dental scalers and curettes to help keep your teeth as clean as possible.

In Summary:

    1. Bacteria + Food = Dental Plaque
    2. When bacteria eat food, especially sugary food, they produce acid, which eats away at our teeth and causes cavities.
    3. We have Calcium and Phosphate ions in our saliva that help to protect our teeth
    4. The acid produced by bacteria demineralizes our teeth. The Calcium and Phosphate ions in saliva remineralize our teeth
    5. Over time the soft dental plaque will become hard dental calculus, which only a dentist or registered dental hygienist can remove.

Checking for Cavities and Screening for Oral Cancer

During your dental visit every six months, after the registered dental hygienist has cleaned your teeth, the dentist doesn’t just come in to make sure everything is clean. The dentist’s job is to make sure that not just your teeth, but your entire mouth is well and healthy. We use our clinical exams and radiographs (x-rays) to check for any signs of dental cavities and gum disease as well as perform a thorough oral cancer screening. During your dental checkups is a great opportunity to ask any questions you may have about Tooth Whitening, Implants, Cosmetic Dentistry, Invisalign, and any other aspect of dentistry that you want to learn more about.

If you are due for a dental visit, don’t hesitate to call our office at (718) 855-7545 and make an appointment. Moshman Dental, serving Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill, Downtown Brooklyn, and Dumbo since 1949.


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