The technical name for a dental cleaning is prophylaxis, or prophy for short. Prophylaxis means to “ward off” disease. Your teeth are hugely important to your health. Have you ever tried to chew when you were missing a molar? It can be difficult and frustrating. Your gums are hugely important to your health, too, because they are what help keep your teeth anchored in your jaw bone. If anything happens to your gums, you can lose your teeth. The importance of dental cleanings is that they are not just meant to keep your teeth clean; they are to keep your gums healthy as well.
Understanding your Gum Health
Although the focus always seems to be on your teeth, your gum health is just as important. It has become an accepted fact that diseased gums can affect all parts of your body. Periodontal disease has been linked to any number of other diseases including diabetes, high blood pressure, dementia, heart attack, and stroke. Periodontal disease is also the major reason for tooth loss.
Keeping your teeth clean and healthy is a never ending goal. If you don’t brush your teeth daily decay can begin in less than 24 hours. Tooth decay is the result of a combination of things. Plaque is a sticky, transparent coating that forms on your teeth. Inside the plaque are bacteria. Your mouth is rife with bacteria. There are good bacteria that help keep the bad bacteria balanced, and bad bacteria that can be very harmful. Harmful pathogenic bacteria feed on sugars that are left over on your teeth, tongue, gums, and cheeks. As they digest the sugar, they produce acids. The acids mix with the bacteria, sugars, and other food debris inside the plaque and stick to your teeth causing decay.
If you brush your teeth two or three times daily, you periodically remove the plaque so it does not build up. However, if you do not brush, the plaque builds up on your teeth and around your gum line and eventually hardens into tartar. Tartar, also called calculus, is a cement-like material that can only be removed during a prophylaxis. If the tartar is left untreated it can cause inflammation and bacterial infection of your gums and periodontal ligaments (periodontal disease) resulting in tooth and possibly bone loss. The importance of a professional dental cleaning is that each step is meant to remove the plaque and tartar buildup and to prevent periodontal disease.
ABOUT YOUR GARLAND DENTIST:
Dr. Vi Mai and the caring staff at Mai Dentistry are dedicated to ensuring that our patients are proud of their beautiful, healthy smiles. With years of experience in general, cosmetic, and restorative dentistry, we can expertly diagnose and treat early dental trouble to preserve your natural tooth structure. To learn more, or to schedule your next appointment, call us today at (972) 530-0552.