2013-10-25 / Community Events

How often should I get my teeth cleaned?

By Maj. Brandon Coleman
Tingay Dental Clinic

Trying to understand the details of getting teeth cleaned can be trickier than it sounds, whether a Soldier or a civilian. As National Dental Hygiene Month winds down, it’s valuable to address one other frequent concern of some dental patients, “How often should I get my teeth cleaned?” “Is a cleaning once a year enough?” “If my civilian dentist recommends three or four, are they just trying to put their kids through college?” These questions do not have a onesize fits-all answer. To help clarify things, an approach is used to divide patients into different risk categories according to their potential for future dental problems.

Patients who are dentally healthy are in a low risk group, and usually require a basic “prophy” cleaning once a year. This group includes the majority of Soldiers. However, specific patients with gum disease (periodontal disease), and with medical conditions like pregnancy or diabetes would fall in a higher risk category. They are authorized to be seen more frequently in order to reduce their risk of future dental problems. They are at a greater risk of dental problems and benefit from more frequent professional help.

More is not always better, so a risk management approach is done to ensure dental resources are used appropriately. People could see their dentist on a daily basis to clean their teeth, but that is not practical. As mentioned in a previous article, the key to oral health is what is done the 364 days away from the dentist’s office. All of those energy drinks and tobacco products do more harm to teeth than any amount of cleaning. Patients have to take some personal responsibility in reducing their own risk, and discussing with their dentist a plan that will address their personal dental strategy in order to avoid costly dental problems down the road.

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