Research Shows an Annual Scale and Polish Could Be Enough to Keep Your Gums in the Pink

Published:June 26th, 2013

Dental examination uid 1426701If you are diligent about keeping your teeth and gums in the very best of health then you’re likely to visit your dentist twice a year for checkups. You’ll almost certainly have a scale and polish at the same time which can be carried out by your dentist or the hygienist.  This preventative measure was thought to be necessary in helping to keep teeth and gums healthy and is something that has been recommended for decades. The reason for this is that a regular scale and polish helps to remove hardened plaque bacteria that could otherwise irritate and inflame the gum tissue, leading to gum disease. It is also one of those treatments that leaves you with that fresh “just been to the dentist feeling” that is actually quite nice.

However a new study carried out at the University of Michigan shows that for many people a biannual cleaning may be unnecessary. Evidence provided by this study showed that many people need just one annual cleaning, provided they have no risk factors. However patients with one or more risk factor should visit the dentist at least twice a year for checkups and cleanings, and maybe more frequently if recommended. People falling into this category still account for more than half of the population, and the three key factors that can influence the risk of gum disease include smoking, genetics and diabetes.

In this case having professional cleanings twice a year can give significant benefits to people who have just one of these risk factors. People with two or three of the risk factors may require more than two cleanings each year. People with none of these risk factors may be able to safely reduce the number of professional cleanings to just once a year.

It is likely that in the future healthcare will become more personalised, and dentists will be able to accurately identify people at greater risk of developing gum disease, offering them more treatment to help reduce this risk. This would be great news as gum disease can present a significant risk to dental health and general health.

Is It Really Safe to Reduce the Number of Times You Have Your Teeth Scaled and Polished?

So is it really safe to cut down on the number of times you have your teeth scaled and polished each year? This is just one study, and while it may be tempting to try to cut costs by reducing the level of treatment you have each year it is well worth discussing this with your dentist first. Even if you don’t have any known risk factors, cutting back on having your teeth professionally cleaned could prove costly if you don’t look after them in between times.

If you are less than vigilant over cleaning your teeth twice a day and flossing once-a-day then you may find you have quite a bit of tartar buildup over the course of six months also, and that you will benefit from having your teeth professionally cleaned twice a year. However if you have an excellent oral hygiene routine home and don’t have any known risk factors then perhaps you may be able to cut down, but do discuss it with a dental professional first.

About the author

Alison, is a UK born and educated dental professional with over 25 years experience.

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