About Professional Teeth Cleaning

There is a misconception that if you continue to brush and floss regularly, you don’t need to get professional teeth cleaning done. According to the (ADA) American Dental Association, it is recommended that high-risk patients should have their teeth cleaned every 4 to 6 months where-as low-risk patients can get it done once a year. High-risk patients include those with poor oral health, smokers, diabetics, or those who are unable to maintain oral hygiene due to physical and mental disabilities, etc. After a thorough cleaning not only will your teeth feel squeaky- clean and smooth but they will look brighter and leave you with a fresh-smelling breath. Now, who doesn’t want that!

Importance of Teeth Cleaning

Professional teeth cleanings are not done for aesthetic purposes alone.

The reason they are so strongly recommended is to preserve your gum health. Why is that? Normally when we consume food, the chewing function of our teeth tends to push food debris into our gums and the tiny spaces in between our teeth. No matter how meticulous your technique is, It is impossible to reach all these areas with a toothbrush or even a piece of dental floss. When this debris is left to accumulate they tend to build up a sticky yellow film of plaque – which consists of bacteria. This eventually hardens to form calculus and tartar that resembles hard chalky yellow, sometimes gray deposits that settle at the bottom of your teeth near the gum margin. These deposits can only be removed using special instruments called curettes and scalers used by Dental professionals. If left ignored the bacteria which resides in plaque and calculus acts on food debris and release acids which can cause teeth to erode resulting in cavities and inflammation of gums (gingivitis) Complicated cases can also get into your bloodstream and can have a negative effect on your systemic health. As Dr. Steven Grater of Pennsylvania Dental Association has said ‘ Your mouth is the entry point of many bacteria, to keep this bacteria from going into your body cleaning, brushing flossing and rinsing is necessary.

How It Works

The special term used for procedures like teeth cleaning has been given the name “prophylaxis” which comes from the Greek word meaning ‘to protect’ or ‘guard against’

Here it refers to the prevention and guarding against tooth decay and gum disease. A simple routine dental exam accompanied by a tooth cleaning procedure goes a long way in protecting you from these two painful complications.

Getting regular cleanings gives your dentist the opportunity to check for signs of decay or any oral tissue changes since your last visit.

Dental cleanings are usually performed by a highly trained technician called a Dental Hygienist who has specialized in this field. These technicians use a special set of tools designed for this purpose. Since everyone’s teeth are not the same each person’s procedure is tailored to their particular needs. However, the basic pattern remains the same

First, the hygienist will do a thorough examination of your teeth and oral tissues. Next, they will use a handheld manual scaler or an ultrasonic rotary scaler depending on the patients need and comfort level and starts to gently clean around the gums. The ultrasonic scaler vibrates at a very high speed and releases a jet stream of water (also called Lavage). The vibratory motion and lavage loosen the hardened plaque and calculus from the teeth which is then rinsed or suctioned out. The scaler tip is blunt and does not damage the tooth structure but it vibrates at high speed and heats up so the stream of water helps to cool the tip down and also flush the debris out. The procedure is not painful but may cause some discomfort in more sensitive patients. The topical anesthetic gel can be applied on the gums prior to the treatment for such patients to have a numbing effect and make them more comfortable

Lastly, the hygienist applies a gritty toothpaste-like gel called dental polish. This is applied using a slow speed rotary hand-piece fitted with a tiny round rubber polishing cup. The intention is to run it along all the inner and outer tooth surfaces to remove any external stains and finish up the cleaning routine. Resulting in the teeth feeling smooth and shiny.

After Care Treatment

Although there are some people who are bothered by the loud constant whirring noise of the ultrasonic scaler, there are others who surprisingly report that they enjoy it! It takes a few minutes to get used to the new feeling just after the cleaning and polishing is done but generally, patients can’t stop looking in the mirror at their new and improved smiles!

Sometimes bleeding and soreness may occur in patients who present with inflamed gums and extensive calculus and plaque deposits. Such patients are advised to schedule more frequent dental visits and are prescribed medicated mouthwashes. They are also advised to improve their flossing and brushing techniques.

This preventive routine can help to protect you from long and complicated procedures and ensure that you have a healthy set of teeth to last you your entire life!


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