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Dental Hygiene Frequently Asked Questions – Greenbelt, MD

Why Do I Have to Get My Teeth Cleaned Every Six Months?

Real McCarl dental group patient sharing healthy smile while bowling thanks to good dental hygiene

When you have a healthy checkup, why do you need another cleaning and dental check-up in six months? In dentistry, the key to minimizing dental treatment is prevention. Getting your teeth cleaned at least twice a year allows the dental hygienist to tailor your home care routine to get the best results. Adjusting your toothbrushing technique, choosing different flossing aids, and even changing your fluoride intake can all help to prevent gum disease and maintain oral health at home between your dental office visits. Sometimes, if there is a history or sign of gum disease, you will need dental checkups and teeth cleanings performed by a dental hygienist more frequently than every six months. The reason for this is when you have a cavity or infection, you will almost always have discomfort or pain and will know that it is time to schedule an appointment with your dentist. Gum disease is usually painless and can occur without symptoms recognized by the patient and needs to be monitored frequently by a dental professional.

Whether it’s been six years or six months since you last visited McCarl Dental Group for a dental checkup and professional teeth cleaning, it’s time to give our team a call. We look forward to helping you with all of your oral health and hygiene needs in our state-of-the-art, family-friendly dental office located in Greenbelt, MD. On this page, you'll find the answers to dental hygiene frequently asked questions from our Greenbelt, MD dentists.

Why Choose McCarl Dental Group for Dental Hygiene Care?

  • Outstanding team of hygienists, many of whom participate in continuing education every month
  • Knowledgeable and experienced in early detection and management of gum disease
  • Can help detect oral cancer during its earliest stages

Why are Professional Teeth Cleanings Important?

Dentist and patient looking at chairside computer

Plaque, a soft sticky film produced by oral bacteria, constantly accumulates, and if missed for 48 hours or longer, it begins to harden and turn into calculus, sometimes called tartar. Once calculus forms, it is no longer removable at home. Instead, calculus must be removed with the specialized tools used by dental hygienists at the dental office. Having calculus along and under the gum line is similar to having a splinter in your hand. The area around it gets red, sensitive, and swollen, and it will not get better until the splinter is removed. Your regular professional teeth cleanings with our team are the opportunity to remove that splinter.

What Happens When Plaque & Tartar Aren’t Removed?

Woman with healthy smile thanks to dental health routine

Prolonged periods of unremoved calculus and plaque buildup leads to inflammation and gum (periodontal) disease. The beginning stages of gum disease are reversible, and the gum tissue can heal and reattach to the teeth with proper removal of bacteria and maintenance of a healthy oral environment at home and in our dental office. As gum disease progresses, permanent bone damage occurs around teeth and more advanced treatments and deep cleanings are necessary to maintain health in a higher risk environment. Gum disease is not always about poor oral hygiene, genetics plays a role in plaque accumulation and how quickly plaque is transformed into calculus, so sometimes patients who work really hard at homecare still need to come in more often. We cannot change our genetics but rather have to learn to work with it, and a trusted dental hygienist can help you do just that.

What Treatments are Available for Periodontal Disease?

Dental team member smiling at patient during periodontal disease treatment visit

A six-month recall is only aimed at patients who have healthy gums. Sometimes patients will need to get their teeth cleaned every 3-4 months as prevention for advanced gum disease. In the half a year interval, they will remain healthy with a few minor suggestions, but those with gum disease that causes bleeding and soft tissue recession and those with high calculus levels need more frequent cleanings to keep their oral health under control. If, during a six-month recall, the gum tissues are not stable, a more frequent dental office visit is suggested.

What are the Benefits of Regular Dental Checkups?

Patient with healthy smile thanks to dental checkup

In addition to promoting gum health, monitoring the oral cavity frequently provides the best chance for the dentist to diagnose and treat cavities and other oral issues while the problems are small and easier to fix. Waiting until a tooth hurts to see a dentist usually involves more extensive dental treatment as opposed to catching a small cavity on checkup x-rays and removing the decay before it reaches an advanced stage.

What Happens During Professional Teeth Cleanings?

Female patient with beautiful smile after professional teeth cleaning

Routine dental cleanings are necessary to maintain and preserve optimal oral health. It is recommended you visit our dental office at least every 6 months to have a routine checkup and dental cleaning with our team. Sometimes, when patients are experiencing periodontal (gum) disease, more frequent visits are required to reduce and eliminate harmful bacteria.

During prophylaxis (professional teeth cleanings) you may receive some combination of the following:

  • An oral cancer screening
  • Any necessary diagnostic X-rays
  • The hygienist may provide tips for how to better maintain health at home
  • An assessment of gum and bone attachment
  • A thorough dental exam
  • Removal of harmful oral bacteria, plaque, and calculus