The Importance of Dental Cleanings 

Regular dental cleanings are absolutely crucial when it comes to maintaining great oral hygiene. The importance of dental cleanings help prevent cavities, remove plaque build-up, and help keep your teeth healthy.

Other than keeping the teeth and gums looking and feeling their best, frequent dental visits will also give your dentist a chance to assess your oral hygiene. This is important, as things like gum disease and cavities are better when they are treated sooner rather than later. 

Dental anxiety is the main reason why people do not get regular dental cleanings. 

Due to dental anxiety, financial constraints, and scheduling issues, many people avoid paying a visit to the dentist unless they have a reason to go – such as oral pain. However, many do not realize that uncomfortable and expensive procedures at the dentist can be avoided by getting regular cleanings. 

Dr. Jamie Laviola understands the cause of dental anxiety. We want to help you have an anxiety-free experience. This is why this article will give you a rundown on the importance of dental cleanings, and what to expect during one. 

It’s recommended that patients visit a dentist for a cleaning at least every six months. This is how you avoid developing major dental issues in-between visits, and issues can be addressed promptly. With regular cleanings, you can keep your teeth and gums in great health. 

Why Regular Dental Visits Are Important 

The Importance of Dental Cleanings

A dental tray, set up and ready for the patient.

Those who value their dental health and like to keep their teeth looking their best probably already understand that dental cleanings are important. However, many have never considered how crucial regular dental cleanings are. Many people who do value their teeth end up putting dental appointments on the back burner and do not visit the dentist as regularly as they should. 

Many dental patients do not realize the following benefits of getting their teeth cleaned: 


  • Preventing cavities 


This is one of the most obvious reasons why people visit the dentist regularly. 


It’s much less painful and much more cost-effective to get a cleaning as opposed to waiting for cavities to appear. Cavity fillings and root canals are not comfortable for most patients. A lot of dental anxiety stems from patients who fail to get regular cleanings, as prevention is a much more pleasant experience than treatment. 


  • Preventing tooth loss 


Gum disease is a serious issue for millions of Americans. As a matter of fact, 47% of American adults have been diagnosed with gum disease.


As gum disease progresses, the plaque buildup will begin to shift down below the gums. From there, it will begin to destroy the bone tissue that supports the tooth. Without treatment and regular cleanings, the tooth can become loose and fall out. Even someone who does struggle with gum disease can prevent tooth loss through regular dental cleanings. 


  • Keeping your breath fresh 


A buildup of bacteria in the mouth is responsible for bad breath in most people. While brushing and flossing at home can certainly help keep the breath fresh, professional cleaning is necessary as well. The importance of dental cleanings helps maintain an odor-free mouth.


  • Saving money 


Many dental insurance plans will have no copay for oral exams and cleanings, while others have very low copays. Even if your medical insurance doesn’t cover dental cleanings, many patients find that they are much less likely to need expensive procedures done in the future. 


Scheduling regular dental cleanings can be a great way to save money. 


  • Brightening your smile 


A person’s smile has a huge impact on their confidence and self-esteem. 


Patients who get regular cleanings will have whiter and brighter teeth, due to the removal of stains, plaque, and tartar. 


  • Improving your general health 


Dental health has a huge impact on one’s general health. 


The roots of our teeth are located near the sinus and brain cavities. A severe infection in a tooth can lead to serious health issues down the line. 


Regular cleanings can preliminary address those issues that will eventually lead to larger general health concerns. 


The Link Between Oral and General Health

Recent research shows there may be a connection between oral diseases (such as gum disease) and other chronic general health conditions. For example, there is a clear link between gum disease and chronic diseases in the cardiovascular system. 


Patients with high-risk immune systems, such as those who have experienced orthopedic implants and heart valve replacements, are also more susceptible to experiencing complications from their oral diseases. 

The best way to avoid oral infection is to maintain your oral health, cleaning your teeth regularly, and paying a bi-annual visit to the dentist. 


In some cases, dental infections may be hazardous to those with orthopedic implants and your primary care doctor may suggest antibiotics before any dental procedures. 


If you have a pre-existing health condition and need dental work done, it is recommended to meet with your primary care doctor to get approval. This is the best way to avoid complications, especially if anesthesia is involved in the procedure. 

What to Expect During a Cleaning

Dentists Chair

A chair used for dental cleanings.

Millions of people have dental anxiety, but having a good idea of what to expect can ease some of that concern. Having a thorough understanding of the process will allow patients to have a stress free experience. 


A dental cleaning takes around 30-60 minutes and is performed by a dental hygienist. 


The exact process will vary from office to office, but this is a generic idea of what to expect when going in for a dental checkup. 


Teeth and Gum Examination 

Prior to the cleaning, your dental hygienist will use a small concave mirror to look at your gums and teeth. The hygienist is looking for plaque, tartar, or stains on your teeth. This will help the hygienist know what they need to focus on during the cleaning. 

If your hygienist sees anything indicative of a more serious issue, like signs of gum disease or cavities, they will inform your dentist so that they can conduct a more thorough examination. 


Removing Plaque and Tartar 


Using a small metal hooked tool, the hygienist will begin removing buildup on the teeth using a process called scaling. They will remove any plaque and tartar that is on the surface of the teeth, including the buildup near the gums and between the teeth. 


If the buildup is minimal, they will use a manual tool. If the buildup is more severe, they will use an ultrasonic tool that vibrates and sprays water to remove the buildup. 

Polishing and Flossing 

The hygienist will then polish the teeth with a handheld electric tool. This tool is similar to a toothbrush, but it has rubbery bristles and a gritty toothpaste is used. This will help remove any stains and polish the teeth. 


The hygienist will also floss during this step. 

Does a Dental Cleaning Hurt?

Most patients do not experience any pain during a dental cleaning. However, some patients do find cleanings to be uncomfortable. There are some circumstances in which discomfort may occur during a cleaning: 


  • Gum disease 
  • Tooth decay 
  • Long periods of time between cleanings 
  • Jaw/facial pain due to preexisting conditions 


That being said, if you are experiencing pain during a cleaning, let your hygienist know. Even the most thorough cleanings can be painless. The hygienist will allow you to take a break or try a new method to reduce the discomfort. Additionally, the hygienist can apply a topical numbing solution to help alleviate irritation during a cleaning. 


Dental anxiety can also be the cause of your pain. When patients have a hyper fixation on what is occurring, they will likely feel more discomfort. Some dentists suggest bringing headphones to the appointment, so you can listen to relaxing music or podcasts. It may also be beneficial to make small talk with your hygienist. Any method you can use to distract yourself during the cleaning will aid anxiety. 

Caring for Teeth Between Cleanings 


The importance of dental cleanings is to keep your teeth clean between your bi-annual dental visits to reduce the risk of dental issues. Brushing and flossing are absolutely crucial to dental health, but a great mouthwash can be beneficial too. You can reduce the risk of tartar, cavities, and gum disease by taking regular care of your teeth. 


Set aside time to brush your teeth two times a day and floss at least once a day. Using mouthwash after brushing your teeth can control the growth of bacteria, as well as freshen your breath. 


In Conclusion


Dental health can be achieved by regular brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash. It’s very important to do these things in conjunction with dental cleanings twice a year.


Plaque and tartar buildup can result in gum disease, and neglecting your teeth can lead to cavities, requiring fillings and root canals. To avoid uncomfortable and expensive procedures, patients should take the precaution of getting regular cleanings. 


If you’re looking for a great dentist in the McLean, VA area, consider Dr. Jamie Laviola. We understand that your dental health matters, and go above and beyond to ensure that you get the best care possible. One of our main focuses is the importance of dental cleanings.

You can request a virtual or in-person consultation by clicking here.