I vaguely recollect many things in my childhood, but one experience that stuck out was my recovery from pneumonia. I had spent weeks in the hospital when I was little. They had me under an oxygen tent and I went through a very severe case of pneumonia. After a number of days, I was released from the hospital, but not without any lingering problems – my teeth had become completely stained with tetracycline.
After I was done my path of recovery, I had to recover my old teeth, too. The staining damage was substantial, to put it nicely. The staining did not just affect the surface of my teeth, but also the enamel, where my teeth were discolored to a shade of gray. This is something that bothered me for a long time.
My sister-in-law was attending a dental hygiene school (www.mydentalhygienistschools.com) to become a registered dental hygienist. She informed me of a ‘client night’ opportunity, where I could go in and get my teeth cleaned for a steep price cut. As financial reasons were to blame for me leaving my teeth like that, I took advantage of the opportunity.
It was comforting to get the cleaning done. Fast-forward closer to the end of her program, and I found myself having to return. I started thinking about it, though, and I couldn’t really justify the whole concept of going in for a “teeth cleaning”. So, I wanted to dig a little further and understand the scientific reasoning for going to the dentist to get your teeth cleaned.
The Scientific Support for Professional Teeth Cleaning
Cleaning your teeth at home is obviously important, but is it really necessary to visit a dental hygiene professional every six months?
This study indicates that professional teeth cleaning holds no real, scientifically backed value.
The linked study looked into two main questions:
- Does scaling and polishing provide a different periodontal health profile versus no scaling and polishing?
- If so, is there any importance to the amount of time between each professional cleaning procedure?
Sadly, the results of the study showed that any of us who spent countless dollars and hours on professional teeth cleaning may have just made a superficial investment. The optimal supportive evidence in the study was merely “mixed findings” and that’s nothing to put any faith in.
It was found that gingivitis levels had a difference based on the time intervals of 6, 12, and 22 months, but this was not viewed as anything of importance on a clinical level.
At the same time, there has been some debate over whether this was a fair study or not. The main issue is the Cochrane review approach. When analyzing evidence-based medicine, there is an assessment on the evidence quality. This results in an unfair valuation for randomized clinical studies.
What Do The Dentists Say?
If you ask a dentist whether their teeth cleaning service is really of value, 100% of the time you will be re-assured that it is. What else would you expect?
Not only will a dentist be supportive of the service they offer, but they will also be suggestive of a more frequent than necessary cleaning schedule. This brings to debate whether the service is really of substantial importance in the first place. While dental hygienist courses include teeth cleaning procedures, it is definitely not a highlight of the course – so, could it not just be a money grab?
In essence, the whole teeth cleaning concept could be no different than paying a car dealership to perform rustproofing on your new vehicle. This ideology is especially understandable when looking at the repeat visits, after the teeth have already been cleaned the first time.
What Does Your Dentist Say?
Seriously, it may seem insulting, but just blurt it out!
If your dentist asks about your next teeth cleaning, find out why it’s absolutely important for you to return for the same procedure.
Is there any evidence to support its medicinal value on the teeth?
It should be interesting to hear what the dentist has to say, considering we are still waiting for the answer on a scientific level.