Why Did My Dentist Recommend a Cleaning Every 3 Months?

Routine dental cleanings are an important part of your oral health. The typical recommended schedule for cleanings and exams is every 6 months. This is the standard time frame for a patient who has no major dental issues. Going to the dentist every 6 months is an ideal schedule for removing plaque and screening for cavities or other oral problems.

However, dentists may recommend that some patients come in for cleanings every 3 months. Why the variation on the typical schedule? Here are some possible reasons.

Prevent Gum Disease

Gum disease, officially called periodontal disease, is an infection of the gum tissue in your mouth. It is caused by a buildup of plaque on the teeth. Plaque is a sticky film made of a combination of food residue and bacteria. When plaque remains on the teeth and gets under the gum line, it can infect the gum tissue.

Regular teeth cleaning at your dentist’s office removes plaque from the exposed part of the teeth. In cases where gum disease is persistent or recurring, scaling and root planing may be done to remove plaque from below the gum line and smooth out the roots of the teeth so that the gums can attach more firmly and without gaps for bacteria to get in.

Scientifically speaking, plaque bacteria take about 3 months to reach maturity, which is when they become periodontal pathogenic bacteria, the kind that causes gum disease. When you have your teeth cleaned every 3 months, the bacteria are removed before they reach maturity. This can prevent gum disease and allow the gum tissue to recover from existing gum disease.

Reduce the Risk of Tooth Decay

Another benefit to having your teeth cleaned every 3 months is that it reduces the risk of tooth decay. Cavities are also caused by plaque buildup on the teeth. The bacteria start to eat away at the tooth enamel, forming a hole. This hole/cavity will only get deeper the longer it goes without treatment.

By going to the dentist every 3 months instead of the typical 6 month schedule, more plaque is removed from your teeth to prevent cavities. And if a cavity were to form, it would be detected quickly for earlier treatment. Having a cavity filled in the early stages prevents the need for more complex procedures like a root canal.

Early Detection of Oral Health Issues

In addition to detecting cavities and gum disease, a dental cleaning and exam can lead to early detection of oral cancer. A routine dental cleaning and oral health exam includes an oral cancer screening. Your dentist will look for signs of oral cancer in the soft tissues of your mouth, jaw, and neck.

Early detection of oral cancer increases the survival rate significantly. If you are at a high risk of oral cancer due to genetics or habits such as tobacco use, it is a good idea to have oral cancer screenings every 3 months.

Prevent Formation of Calculus

When plaque remains on the teeth for a long time, it eventually hardens into calculus. Calculus is much more difficult to remove from the teeth than plaque. It requires special tools and procedures to remove. It is definitely in your best interest to remove plaque from your teeth before it hardens into calculus.

Blossom Dentistry Sees Patients on a Customized Schedule 

There is no schedule for dental cleanings that works for everyone. Each individual patient may have specific needs that will dictate the best schedule for routine cleanings and exams. At Blossom Dentistry, we make a recommendation for each patient that meets your dental health needs. If you suffer from recurring gum disease, excessive tooth decay, or other oral health issues, we may recommend visiting us every 3 months. If you usually have healthy teeth and gums, we will likely only recommend the typical schedule of cleanings every 6 months to help them stay that way.

Call 202-922-2900 today to schedule a consultation or book an appointment. We look forward to helping you maintain healthy teeth and gums.