So, you have an appointment at your Sioux City IA dental office local for a “teeth cleaning,” but your busy and nothing hurts, so you decide not to go. Of course, you plan to reschedule, but it seems like no big deal, and before long you forget all about it.
WHAT’S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?
First of all, we don’t clean your teeth, you do. Hopefully every day with a toothbrush (and floss). Secondly, when you skip dental visits, you are missing out on many important benefits.
When you come in for your hygiene appointment, we do more than clean your teeth with a toothbrush.
- The hygienist reviews any changes in your health history and checks your blood pressure. Why do we care about your medications? They affect your oral health and your risk for dental decay for one. It also affects how we provide treatment for you. If you’ve started a new allergy medication or blood pressure medication, it can affect the quantity and quality of your saliva. Spit is important to keep you from getting cavities.
- We check blood pressure. We have sent more than a few people to their medical providers to get treatment for this silent disease that can lead to heart attack and stroke or kidney failure.
- The hygienists check the status of your gums, your level of oral hygiene and any bleeding that may occur during the gum check. Periodontal disease or gum disease is linked to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s, just to name a few. Poor oral hygiene can cause pneumonia in susceptible patients. Poor oral hygiene also ups your risk for cavities.
- X-rays may be taken if indicated. Dental decay is a process. We can treat early breakdown without fillings in some cases.
- Now, finally the “teeth cleaning.” The hygienist uses hand instruments or the ultrasonic cleaner to remove hard and soft deposits from the teeth. In doing this she also removes the biofilm, the layer of bacteria that cling to the teeth. If we use the laser, this reduces the number of bacteria found under the gumline.
WHAT IS BIOFILM, AND WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT?
The biofilm used to be called plaque. Research has shown this biofilm is a community of bacteria that interact with each other and to the oral environment. So, if you consume sugary drinks or have frequent snacks, the biofilm then allows bacteria that produce more acid to multiply. They use the sugar to produce the acid. The pH drops and more acid producing bacteria can multiply and grow. The longer the pH is below pH 7, the more minerals can leach out of your teeth. If this continues, this is can start the cavity process.
KEEPING YOUR GUMS HEALTHY
Gum disease is a type of oral infection. It begins with biofilm (plaque) along the gum line, which irritates soft tissue. You won’t feel any pain, and your gums likely won’t even look different to the untrained eye. However, subtle inflammation makes the gum tissue pull loose from tooth roots. This causes shallow pockets around your teeth, where germs and biofilm can settle, which is hard to clean with a toothbrush. Undisturbed biofilm turns into tartar, which is basically impossible to brush away. As a result, there is more gum irritation, making deeper pockets. It is a vicious cycle that keeps getting worse without treatment.
If you have bleeding gums and deeper pockets around your teeth, then you need a more extensive “cleaning.” All the pockets must be cleaned out to disrupt the biofilm in the pockets and remove hard build up. In deeper pockets, greater than 3 mm it takes approximately 3 months for the biofilm to return to the make-up of bacteria that it had before. These are the bacteria that cause the gum disease. That is why we recommend a three-month schedule for “cleaning” if you have gum disease.
FORTIFY AND PROTECT TEETH
At the end of the hygiene treatment, fluoride varnish is placed. Most people will benefit from this placement. Fluoride is a type of mineral, that is naturally present in water. It can reduce the risk of tooth decay in adults as well as kids.
In our day and time with our poor nutritional intake, most of us are at high risk for decay. The fluoride incorporates into the enamel making it more resistant to releasing minerals. It also aids in replenishing calcium and phosphorus. As a result, your teeth are harder, stronger, and better protected from an acid attack.
GIVE YOUR SMILE THE CARE IT NEEDS
So, you see, it is much more than “just a cleaning.” That is why we prefer the term hygiene appointment. It is a way to improve your overall health and protect you from dental disease. You have probably heard the saying “prevention is the best cure.” That holds true in many areas of life, and oral health is among them. If you want to “cure” oral disease before it even starts, give us a call at 712-274-2228 to schedule a hygiene treatment.