Professional teeth cleaning. Brushing and flossing everyday is only apart of the battle! Another important part is having your teeth regularly cleaned by a professional! (Of course, if you aren’t quite so meticulous about your oral hygiene, it’s even more important!) After a professional teeth cleaning, the inside of your mouth will feel flush, polished and clean as a whistle!
But why do we need a professional cleaning in addition to our regular brushing and flossing? Fundamentally, a layer of plaque (a sticky deposit on teeth in which bacteria proliferate) and tartar ( calcified plaque, a hard-mineral deposit that forms on teeth ) build up over a period of time. Without special tools it, can be very difficult to take off. When these deposits are allowed to remain on the tooth surfaces or below the gum line, they provide ideal conditions for bacteria to grow and multiply. The acids produced by some bacteria cause tooth decay and gum disease; if left uncontrolled, this can lead to inflammation and infection of the gums, and possibly influence systemic (whole body) diseases.
Dentists have a special term for preventive procedures like tooth cleaning: prophylaxis (In Greek, phylax means “guard”, so prophylactic measures guard against disease by taking action ahead of time). In this case, the focus is on preventing tooth decay and gum disease. Performed in conjunction with a routine dental examination, a professional cleaning can go a long way toward controlling these two common maladies. While your teeth are being cleaned, it’s also a good opportunity to take a close look at your oral health in general and check for a few specific problems.
The Teeth Cleaning Process
During your visit, the cleaning will be most likely performed by our dental hygienist (although our doctors may do it as well). A dental hygienist is a highly skilled specialist that uses a special set of tools for your cleaning. Everyone has a unique set of teeth and so our hygienist will be tailoring your cleaning for your own specific needs. All that being said there is a process that is shared.
The Hygienist will first do an oral examination to check the health of your teeth and gums. Next the Hygienist will use ultrasonic scaler or a curette to remove plaque and calculus from the surfaces of the tooth. An ultrasonic scaler uses ultrasound (high vibrational energy at a high frequency) to remove the plaque. While this is happening, there is a cool stream of liquid called lavage to help aid in the plaque removal. It will also wash away any extra debris that might come out.
Sometimes the Hygienist or Dentist performing the cleaning may use a curette. A curette is hand-activated instrument which are curved and made to fit around and in between your teeth. Those with sensitive gums and teeth may prefer a curette. In the capable hands of a hygienist or dentist, it takes only moderate pressure to remove any stubborn buildup and scrub the teeth clean, regardless of which instruments are used.
Finally, your teeth are polished with a low-speed rotary brush fitted with a soft rubber tip. A slightly gritty, toothpaste-like gel is applied, and the tip spins around and polishes the teeth, making them smooth and shiny. At the end sometimes flouride will be added to your teeth. Flouride is great because it will rebuild (remineralize) weakened tooth enamel, slow down the loss of minerals from tooth enamel, reverse early signs of tooth decay, and prevent the growth of harmful oral bacteria.
Essential to maintain Good Oral Health
Many of our patients don’t report any noticeable discomfort during a cleaning. In fact when they see the work done on their teeth after the cleaning, they feel estatic to see the results! If it’s been a while since your last cleaning it may take a few minutes to get used to the sensation of your teeth being cleaned. In the event you may experinece any discomfort, let us know and it’s always possible to apply a numbing gel.
If your gums are irritated due to bacterial buildup, they may become sore or bleed slightly during the cleaning. It may be possible to prevent this from occurring in the future with oral hygiene measures you can perform at home (such as improved flossing techniques or special mouth rinses); it might also indicate that you need more frequent in-office cleanings. This type of regular maintenance will help you avoid more involved dental procedures down the road — and it will give you the best chance of keeping your teeth for life!
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