Learning to Manage Your Dental Problems

Learning to Manage Your Dental Problems

Do You Need Every Preventative Service At Your Dental Cleaning Appointments?

by Charlotte Beck

If you are visiting your family dentist once or twice a year for dental cleanings, you may be surprised to learn that you may not need services like X-rays or polishing pastes at every visit. Read on to learn why certain services aren't needed at every appointment and when you might actually need some of them more often.

Polishing Paste Applications

You may assume that you always need polishing paste during your dental cleanings (oral prophylaxis). However, after your dentist or hygienist scales your teeth and removes tartar, he or she may decide that you don't need polishing paste. Polishing is actually done selectively; for instance, if you have lots of stains from coffee or tea, then your dentist may opt to polish your teeth.


You may think that you need X-rays at every visit, but adolescents and adults with good oral health may only need these done every 18 to 36 months. Why? X-rays cause ionization, which is a disruption of electrons in molecules.

If you are exposed to too much ionization, it can be bad for your health. However, when X-rays are used in moderation by your dentist, the preventative benefits outweigh the risks of ionization. If you aren't at risk for bone loss, cavities, gum disease, tooth impaction, etc., then your dentist doesn't need to perform X-rays and expose you to unnecessary ionizing radiation. If you have a history of poor oral health, then your dentist may recommend more frequent X-rays.

Gingival Probing

During gingival probing, your dentist or hygienist will measure the depth of gum pockets around your teeth. If you floss regularly, don't have bleeding gums, and have pockets less than 3 mm, your dentist may not perform this task at every visit. However, if you don't floss regularly, have bleeding gums, or gum pockets deeper than 4 mm, your dentist may decide to measure gum pockets at every visit.

If you have gingivitis—a condition that causes gum inflammation—or have been treated previously for periodontal disease, then your dentist may want you to come in for gingival probing more often and not just during your annual cleanings. Gingival probing can help your doctor make sure that your measurements are improving. Gum disease that gets out of hand can lead to infection, jaw bone loss, and tooth loss, so extra appointments for probing can be beneficial for high-risk patients. 

Oral Cancer Screenings

Oral cancer screenings aren't anything to be afraid of. Your doctor will use a tongue depressor, gloved hands, and cotton rolls to analyze the inside of your mouth for lesions and other signs of cancer. However, people who smoke, consume a lot of alcohol, or who've had cancer before may need additional screenings throughout the year since they can be at a higher risk.

As you can see, each cleaning appointment may be different depending on your current health and needs. You'll want to talk with a professional who performs family dentistry to see how frequently you need each of these preventative treatments.


About Me

Learning to Manage Your Dental Problems

As a homeschool parent and independent contractor, I don't always have time to practice good dental care. I often find myself in a rush just to meet my daily tasks and goals. My lack of good dental care eventually caught up with me. After experiencing severe pain in my back tooth, I made an appointment with my dentist. My dentist found a large hole in the center of the tooth. Root canal treatment couldn't save the tooth, so my dentist extracted it. I learned a very painful and valuable lesson that day. No matter how hectic my life is, I should still make time to brush and floss my teeth properly. I'm here to help you and other people avoid painful dental problems with my blog. I offer tips on how to keep your teeth clean and how to spot dental problems before they get out of control. Good luck.