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Show Your Teeth Some Respect

Think about how many times per day you rely on your teeth. You use them to chew breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. You press your tongue against them to make certain sounds when you speak. There's really no doubt about it — your teeth are important, and they deserve your respect. You can pay them that respect by visiting your dentist for regular cleaning and checkup appointments. You should also call at the first sign of dental pain, tooth discoloration, or other oral health changes. Read more about dentists and dentistry here on this blog, where we dive deep into related topics.

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Show Your Teeth Some Respect

Dental Cleanings Do More Than Prevent Cavities

by April Myers

Why do you go to the dentist to have your teeth cleaned? Most people would answer this question with, "to prevent cavities." Indeed, having your teeth cleaned by a dental hygienist once or twice a year will go a long way towards preventing cavities, which are also known as dental caries. However, that's far from the only reason to have regular teeth cleaning appointments. Here are some additional reasons why those cleaning appointments are so important.

1. To prevent gum disease.

The soft, yellow-ish substance that accumulates on your teeth all day is known as plaque. When plaque is not removed, it turns into tartar, which is much harder and cannot be removed by brushing or flossing. Even if you brush and floss regularly, you are likely to get some tartar accumulation on your teeth. The most common place for that tartar to accumulate is along the gumline. Since the tartar is loaded with oral bacteria, it often leads to an infection of the gums, which is known as gum disease. Remember, you can't remove this tartar yourself — so once it forms, it's really hard to keep gum disease from developing. Luckily, your dental hygienist can remove the tartar, which will keep gum disease from developing.

And preventing gum disease is really important. Although it may just lead to some soreness and mild bleeding in its early stages, it can lead to tooth loss later on. Take care of it early by having your teeth cleaned, and you'll keep your natural teeth a lot longer!

2. To fight bad breath.

Here's the other thing about tartar: it can be smelly. You can brush and floss daily, but your mouth will still have a bit of a funk if you have tartar accumulation. This can make it hard to connect with your partner, and it may make you self-conscious at work and in social situations. A dental hygienist will remove the tartar, and your mouth will immediately smell a lot better. You won't find yourself having to reach for those breath mints so often — which is good news since many breath mints are high in sugar and therefore not very good for your teeth.

3. To protect your heart.

Did you know that tooth health and heart health are closely related? Tooth decay and gum disease both increase your risk of heart disease. Researchers are not entirely sure why this connection exists, but they think it has to do with bacteria. The bacteria that cause tooth decay and gum disease can also cause inflammation in your arteries, which causes your arteries to harden in an ailment known as atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis increases your risk of a heart attack.

By having your teeth cleaned regularly, you are addressing both tooth decay and gum disease, and as a result, you are decreasing your risk for heart disease. This is important for everyone — not just for people with a family history of heart disease or other risk factors.

4. To ensure oral cancer does not go undiagnosed.

When your dentist or dental hygienist is cleaning your teeth, they are also looking at the overall condition of your mouth. If they notice anything amiss, such as a spot that looks like it could be oral cancer, they can refer you to a specialist for diagnosis and treatment. Oral cancer lesions are not always painful, and you can't always see them in the mirror, so having your hygienist take a look inside your mouth once or twice a year could lead to an earlier diagnosis. The earlier oral cancer is diagnosed, the better your chances of a full recovery.

Dental cleanings do prevent cavities, but they also do a whole lot more than that. If it has been more than six months since you've had a cleaning, make that appointment ASAP.

To learn more about dental cleanings, contact a dentist.

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