Cleanings and Check-ups
Teeth cleaning, also known as prophylaxis, is a procedure for the removal of tartar (mineralized plaque) that may develop even with careful brushing and flossing, especially in areas that are difficult to reach in routine toothbrushing. It is often done by a dental hygienist. Professional cleaning includes tooth scaling and tooth polishing and debridement if too much tartar has accumulated. This involves the use of various instruments or devices to loosen and remove deposits from the teeth.
As to the frequency of cleaning, careful research has not shown that more frequent cleaning leads to better outcomes. A review of the research literature on the question concluded "the research evidence is not of sufficient quality to reach any conclusions regarding the beneficial and adverse effects of routine scaling and polishing for periodontal health and regarding the effects of providing this intervention at different time intervals"
Thus, any general recommendation for a frequency of routine cleaning (e.g. every six months, every year) has no empirical basis Moreover, as economists have pointed out, dentists (or other dental professionals) have an incentive to recommend frequent cleaning because it increases their revenues. Law professor Ian Ayres, author of Super Crunchers, has even questioned "Is Tooth Cleaning a Scam?
Most dental hygienists recommend having the teeth professionally cleaned every six months. More frequent cleaning and examination may be necessary during treatment of dental and other oral disorders. Routine examination of the teeth is recommended at least every year. This may include yearly, select dental X-rays. See also dental plaque identification procedure and removal. Between cleanings by a dental hygienist, good oral hygiene helps to prevent cavities, tartar build-up, and gum disease.