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Ask a Dentist: Do you really need a teeth cleaning every 6 months?

Your dental questions, answered! #AskADentist

Do you really need a teeth cleaning every 6 months?

dental cleaning, warren dentist, the star dental group

There are a few reasons why the 6-month time frame is a good time to see a dentist.


The first reason to see a dentist once every six months is because of plaque and its harder friend, calculus. Plaque is a biofilm that is made up of sugars, proteins, saliva, and most importantly bacteria. We brush our teeth twice a day to disrupt the plaque. It is impossible to get rid of the plaque completely, so we knock it down twice a day- think of kicking over an ant hill twice a day. After you knock it over, the ants spend all of their time rebuilding it. The same goes for the plaque on your teeth.

When plaque is sitting in an area long enough, the calcium from saliva hardens it and it now becomes the harder friend, calculus. At this point, it is not able to be brushed off the teeth with a toothbrush and toothpaste. It has to be physically removed by a dentist or hygienist. In most people, calculus buildup usually peaks around 6 months.


Secondly, a complete dental exam is optimal every 6 months because it coincides with the average progression of oral diseases. A clean bill of health only lasts for so long before another check up is needed. A frequency of 6 months usually will not allow a cavity to get to a point where it can not be restored with a simple filling. Furthermore, at every dental checkup, we perform an oral cancer screening exam. Just like other cancers, catching oral cancer early is key.

What happens if I wait longer than 6 months to see the dentist?

When you wait much longer than 6 months to have a dental cleaning and check-up, it is likely that problems with your teeth may arise. You may believe you are fine because you do not feel anything is wrong- there is no pain, nor sensitivity. However, when you finally go back to the dentist, you may become overwhelmed at what is needed to get back to a clean bill of health.

For example, last week I saw a patient that has not been to the dentist in over 10 years. He only came in because one of his wisdom teeth broke and it was bothering him. After the exam and X-rays, we found that he had chronic periodontist and a few teeth that were loose. His calculus had built up so much that he lost a lot of the bone around his teeth and they became loose. Now he has to come in every 3 months for a cleaning in hopes to halt the progression of this disease so that he doesn't lose his teeth.

Moral of the story, try to keep up with a dental cleaning and check up every 6 months to maintain optimal oral health (and also to keep dental repair costs down)!


The Star Dental Group

Dentist in Warren, NJ. Dental office in Warren, NJ. Dentist near me.

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