What is Teeth Cleaning?
Teeth cleaning, or dental prophylaxis or scaling and polishing, is a dental procedure to remove plaque, tartar (hardened plaque), and stains from the teeth. It is essential to maintaining good oral hygiene and preventing dental problems such as tooth decay and gum disease.
During a teeth cleaning appointment, a dental hygienist or a dentist uses specialized tools to scrape off the plaque and tartar accumulated on the teeth, particularly in hard-to-reach areas. Plaque is a sticky film composed of bacteria, food particles, and saliva that forms on the teeth. If not removed, plaque can harden into tartar, which is more difficult to remove and can lead to tooth decay and gum disease.
The cleaning process typically involves the following steps:
Physical examination: The dental professional will visually inspect your mouth to evaluate your oral health and identify potential issues.
Scaling: Using a dental scaler, the dental professional will carefully scrape off the plaque and tartar from the tooth surfaces, including the areas between the teeth and the gum line.
Polishing: After scaling, the teeth are polished using a rotating brush or rubber cup attached to a dental handpiece. A particular toothpaste-like substance, prophylaxis paste, is applied to remove surface stains and give the teeth a smoother, polished appearance.
Flossing: The dental professional will floss between your teeth to remove any remaining plaque or debris.
Rinsing: You will be asked to rinse your mouth to remove debris or residual cleaning materials.
In addition to cleaning the teeth, a dental professional may provide oral hygiene instructions, including proper brushing and flossing techniques, and offer recommendations for maintaining good oral health.
It is generally recommended to have teeth cleaning performed every six months as part of routine dental care. However, the frequency may vary depending on an individual’s oral health status and the recommendations of their dentist or dental hygienist.
What Are the Different Types of Dental Cleanings?
Different dental cleanings may be recommended based on an individual’s oral health needs. The specific type of cleaning will depend on factors such as the presence of gum disease, the extent of tartar buildup, and the overall condition of the teeth and gums. Here are some common types of dental cleanings:
Regular dental cleaning (Prophylaxis): The standard cleaning performed in routine dental care. It involves removing plaque, tartar, and surface stains from the teeth. It is typically recommended every six months for individuals with good oral health.
Deep cleaning (Scaling and root planing): Deep cleaning is typically recommended for individuals with gum disease, specifically in the early stages known as gingivitis or the more advanced stage called periodontitis. It involves a more thorough cleaning below the gum line to remove plaque, tartar, and bacteria from the tooth roots and smooth out rough areas (root planing) to promote gum reattachment and healing.
Maintenance cleaning: After undergoing deep cleaning for gum disease, maintenance cleanings are scheduled to monitor and maintain gum health. These cleanings are performed at regular intervals, usually, every three to four months, to prevent the recurrence or progression of gum disease.
Full mouth debridement: In cases where there is a significant buildup of tartar or extensive plaque, a full mouth debridement may be performed. This initial cleaning involves removing large deposits of tartar and plaque to allow for a comprehensive oral examination and assessment of oral health. Further cleanings and treatments can then be planned based on the findings.
Periodontal maintenance: Periodontal maintenance cleanings are performed for individuals who have undergone advanced gum disease (periodontitis) treatment and require ongoing care to manage the condition. These cleanings focus on deep cleaning, monitoring gum health, and preventing disease progression.
It’s important to note that the specific terminology and procedures may vary between dental practices, and your dentist or dental hygienist will determine the recommended cleaning type based on your individual needs and oral health condition.
Why dental cleaning visits are important?
Dental cleaning visits are essential for several reasons:
Plaque and tartar removal: Regular dental cleanings help remove plaque and tartar buildup from the teeth. Plaque is a sticky film that forms on the teeth and contains harmful bacteria. If not adequately removed, it can harden into tartar, which cannot be removed by brushing and flossing alone. Tartar can contribute to tooth decay and gum disease, so removing it through professional cleanings is crucial for maintaining oral health.
Prevention of tooth decay: Dental cleanings help prevent tooth decay. Plaque buildup contains bacteria that produce acids, which can erode the tooth enamel and lead to cavities. By removing plaque and tartar, dental cleanings reduce the risk of tooth decay and the need for dental fillings or other treatments.
Prevention of gum disease: Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is a bacterial infection that affects the gums and supporting structures of the teeth. Plaque and tartar accumulation can cause gum inflammation, leading to gingivitis (mild gum disease) and, if left untreated, progressing to periodontitis (advanced gum disease). Regular dental cleanings help remove the bacteria and irritants contributing to gum disease, reducing the risk of gum inflammation and its associated complications.
Early detection of oral health issues: Dental cleanings involve thoroughly examining the teeth, gums, and oral tissues. During these visits, dentists or dental hygienists can identify early signs of dental problems such as cavities, gum disease, oral infections, oral cancer, and other oral health issues. Early detection allows for timely intervention and treatment, preventing oral disease progression and potentially saving teeth.
Fresh breath and improved aesthetics: Dental cleanings help improve oral hygiene and freshen breath. Removing plaque, tartar, and surface stains can enhance the appearance of the teeth and contribute to a brighter smile. Addressing any underlying oral health issues during dental cleanings can help eliminate persistent lousy breath caused by gum disease or other conditions.
Overall health benefits: Oral health is closely linked to overall health. Poor oral hygiene and untreated oral conditions can contribute to systemic health problems such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, respiratory infections, and adverse pregnancy outcomes. Regular dental cleanings and maintenance visits promote oral health, which can positively affect overall well-being.
You can maintain good oral hygiene, prevent dental problems, and support your overall health by scheduling and attending regular dental cleaning visits. Following the recommended cleaning schedule provided by your dentist or dental hygienist based on your oral health needs is essential.