Ever wonder why dentists say you should get your teeth cleaned twice a year even if your teeth are feeling fine? Well, the answer is not, as many people think, just that we love to take dental X-rays of your teeth! In fact, we recommend that twice-yearly cleaning because we don’t want to see you (or your teeth) very often, and the best way to accomplish this is to have you come in twice a year.
So, where did that twice-a-year rule come from? Several places. For starters, no matter how great a brusher and a flosser you are, there are places in your mouth that you simply will not get as clean as a dental hygienist will because it’s your mouth. You are cleaning from a less-than-optimum angle. So there will always be places where plaque and tartar are building up in your mouth, and regular visits to the dentist are the best way to keep that plaque and tartar from turning into tooth decay and cavities. It’s preventative medicine at its finest, and it not only keeps your mouth healthy; it can even prevent premature births, depression, and heart problems.
“Wow, that’s a lot of benefits associated with getting my teeth cleaned every six months, but isn’t some of this stuff a stretch?” you may be thinking. Nope, not a stretch. In fact, according to the American Academy of Periodontology, women with periodontal disease are nearly seven times more likely than those without to deliver babies who are premature and/or have low birth weight. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that depression is directly linked to poor oral health as well, with gum disease closely associated with stress, distress, anxiety, and depression. Finally, a study from the American Heart Association and a subsequent review of the literature indicates that poor oral health is associated with poorer heart health, and that just brushing your teeth daily likely means you are in better cardiovascular condition as well! A separate study indicated gum disease worsens blood pressure and interferes with medications that treat hypertension.
So, you see, it’s not that we love your dental X-rays or giving you that choice between watermelon and mint toothpaste so much as that we love knowing that when we help you keep your mouth healthy and your teeth clean, we are helping keep all of you healthy. And that, friends, makes all of us at Dr. Pat Crawford’s dental practice in Kenosha, Wisconsin, very proud. We’ll see you soon!