Are 6-Month Dental Cleanings Necessary?
After being in lockdown, masked, and in virtual isolation for almost two years, everyone wants to socialize again and most importantly smile, mask-free! Most people follow the standard recommendation of visiting the dentist twice a year to find out if they have any cavities and to get their teeth cleaned. While you may ask yourself how important it is to go and have your teeth cleaned, just how good of an idea is it? I’m going to talk about the reasons why should absolutely have a six-month checkup or sooner than six months and then I will tell you why sometimes this six-month checkup could be dangerous and or totally unnecessary.
You regularly brush and floss your teeth and do your best to avoid sweets, but still, your teeth never feel like they are totally clean. This is because you may have developed what is called “plaque” on your teeth. This plaque is colonies formed by the bacteria looking for a place to set up “housekeeping”. If the teeth are not thoroughly cleaned within 24 hours, the housekeeping set-ups have already formed. After 24 hours, if this plaque is not removed, it begins to absorb inorganic calcium from the bloodstream. The body will dump inorganic calcium in any area of excessive acidity. In the mouth, it is called calculus or tarter. If it lands and deposits in the bloodstream it is called arteriosclerosis, in the kidneys, it is called kidney stones, and in the gall bladder, gall stones, etc. What happens in the mouth is an indicator of what is happening in the rest of the body, so when this buildup is found in the mouth, most likely there is also excessive inorganic calcium being “dumped” into the rest of the body.
If your body is dumping inorganic calcium into your mouth, and you’re building up tartar, especially in the back of your lower front teeth, then you probably also have a problem with the metabolism of minerals. Your body chemistry is out of sync and your pH is not perfect. Unfortunately, at this stage, we can’t brush it off ourselves. If this is what you see in your mouth then, yes, you do need to go to the dentist because you need to get this substance cleaned off by a professional. More importantly, you need to also find out why you’re forming it in the first place.”
This buildup of calculus if left untreated will lead to more inflammation of the gums, gum recession, and gum disease or gingivitis. Gingivitis is when the gums are red and swollen and bleed when you brush your teeth, which is very common in about 90% of adults. This gingivitis, when not taken care of can lead to chronic periodontitis and bone loss. This bone loss can then cause tooth loss due to the destruction of the bone that holds the teeth in place.
The bacteria found in large numbers in these oral conditions have been linked to serious health problems such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and adverse pregnancy outcomes. Porphyromonas gingivalis (P. gingivalis) is the most important pathogenic bacteria causing periodontal disease. Periodontal disease has been linked to other systemic diseases such as cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. The following are warning signs of periodontal disease:
- Bad breath or bad taste that won’t go away
- Red or swollen gums
- Tender or bleeding gums
- Painful chewing
- Loose teeth
- Sensitive teeth
- Gums that have pulled away from your teeth
- Any change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
- Any change in the fit of partial dentures
The DNA ConneXions® Comprehensive Oral Test Panel will indicate whether or not there are any microorganisms in your mouth that you should worry about. This non-invasive test will identify bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites using our highly absorbent Super Floss – an ideal method for sample collection at home without the assistance of a medical or dental professional.
Bad dental work can also irritate and cause inflammation of the gums. If you feel rough spots on your dental work when you move your tongue, that can also attract bacteria, and cause bleeding gums. One of my regularly seen patients came in one day and we noticed that her gums were very puffy and bled easily. I asked her if she was pregnant, and her response was “I don’t think so”. Two days later, she had a pregnancy test and sure enough, she was pregnant. Sometimes, your Biological Dentist can act as your primary care physician because we see problems in the mouth, way before the physician will notice them and certainly before any hospital tests are completed.
So, if you have any of the signs that we have just discussed, bleeding of your gums or tarter behind your front teeth, then absolutely, you should make an appointment with your local Biological Dentist and Hygienist for an exam, blood tests, and a cleaning or if more serious problems are presented, you may need a deep cleaning. A deep cleaning is a surgical procedure completed usually by a hygienist and the treatment goes deep below the gum line onto the roots of the teeth.
Some of the unfortunate risks involved with a deep cleaning are:
- Slight pain and sensitivity
- Can cause gum recession
- Risk of infection after the procedure
- In very rare cases, a risk of nerve damage, so, it really is better to never attempt a deep cleaning
Other Risk factors
Certain factors increase the risk for periodontal disease:
- Poor oral hygiene
- Crooked teeth
- Underlying immuno-deficiencies—e.g., AIDS
- Fillings that have become defective
- Taking medications that cause dry mouth
- Bridges that no longer fit properly
- Female hormonal changes, such as with pregnancy or the use of oral contraceptives
Things You Can Do to Improve Your Health
- Avoid refined carbohydrates and sugar
- Rinsing your mouth with saltwater helps to decrease bacteria,
- You can make a paste of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide (if your gums are bleeding) to brush your teeth and gums. The hydrogen peroxide should be eliminated when the bleeding stops.
- Oil pulling was developed in ayurvedic medicine using various oils. A recent study found coconut oil to have significant antibacterial efficacy versus sesame oil and is effective in reducing the severity of gingivitis.
- Herbal extracts have been used in dentistry as antimicrobial, antiseptics, and antibacterial. Herbal extracts have been used in controlling plaque in the case of gingivitis, and periodontitis. Herbs such as aloe vera, black cohosh, bloodroot, green tea, ginger, neem, clove oil, peppermint, turmeric, tulsi, Triphala, and garlic. (There may be contraindications for children, pregnant or lactating women). Consult your health care professional before taking herbs.
- Studies have found that using an electric toothbrush has shown clinical and statistical improvement in overall plaque scores, allowing the ability to brush the teeth in a way that is optimal in terms of removing plaque and improving gum health.
- Invest in an oral irrigator (we recommend Via Jet) to irrigate your gums – start with a low setting and adding a small amount (1/2 teaspoon) sodium ascorbate vitamin C powder (NOT ascorbic acid) to the reservoir will benefit your gum health.
So, are 6-month dental cleanings really necessary? If your gums never bleed and you do not have any signs of calculus or tarter on your teeth, then you do not need to get your teeth cleaned every six months. A once-a-year checkup will suffice.
When it’s time for your next dental appointment, consider a biological/holistic dental practitioner. If the treatments recommended by your dentist ever seem excessive, think about getting a second – or even third opinion.
- Wilson M. et al. Gum Diseases (2021); Close Encounters of the Microbial Kind. Springer, Cham.
- Healthline website: Accessed May 10, 2022, https://www.healthline.com/health/deep-cleaning-teeth
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Oral Health – Periodontal Disease. Accessed May 10, 2022. https://www.cdc.gov/oralhealth/conditions/periodontal-disease.html
- Zhang Z, et al. The Role of Porphyromonas gingivalisOuter Membrane Vesicles in Periodontal Disease and Related Systemic Diseases. Front. Cell. Infect. Microbiol., 28 January (2021)
- Yesh S, et al. Herbal Medicines – A Natural Cure In Dentistry. International Journal of Research and Review.(2018) Vol.5. Issue: 6
- Kaliamoorthy S, et al. Comparing the Effect of Coconut Oil Pulling Practice with Oil Pulling Using Sesame Oil in Plaque‐Induced Gingivitis: A Prospective Comparative Interventional Study (2018) Journal of Natural Science, Biology and Medicine.9:165-8
- Jain Y. A comparison of the efficacy of powered and manual toothbrushes in controlling plaque and gingivitis: a clinical study. Clin Cosmet Investig Dent.(2013); 5: 3–9.