Even if you brush and floss your teeth faithfully, it is important that you have professional teeth cleanings regularly. After a thorough cleaning, your teeth will feel smooth and squeaky-clean, and they will probably look a lot brighter too.
But professional teeth cleanings aren’t for looks alone.
Why Do You Need Professional Teeth Cleanings?
Over time, teeth tend to build up a layer of plaque (called tartar or calculus) that are difficult to remove. When deposits remain on the tooth surfaces or below the gum line, they provide ideal conditions for bacteria to flourish. 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.
Dentists have a special term for preventive procedures such as professional teeth cleanings: prophylaxis, from the Greek word meaning to protect or guard against. In this case, the focus is on preventing tooth decay and gum disease. When performed in conjunction with a routine dental examination, a professional cleaning can go a long way toward controlling these two common maladies. While they are cleaning teeth, 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 Professional Cleaning Procedure
Teeth cleanings are often performed by a dental hygienist — a highly trained technician who uses a special set of tools designed just for this purpose. Because everyone’s teeth are a little different, your cleaning will be tailored to your particular needs. However, many cleanings follow a similar pattern.
First, the dental hygienist will do an oral examination to evaluate the health of your oral tissues. Then the cleaning will take place using either an ultrasonic scaler or metal instruments referred to as curettes to remove the plaque and calculus from the tooth surfaces. The ultrasonic scaler is a hand-held tool with a tiny tip that vibrates at a very high frequency. Hardened deposits are broken up by the rapid movement of the tip, which does not damage the tooth. A constant stream of liquid (called lavage) serves to cool the tip and aid in plaque removal. At the same time, it also washes away the debris.
Some hygienists prefer curettes, which are hand-held instruments that are curved and tapered to fit around and in between the teeth. If your teeth are sensitive, using hand-held instruments may be more comfortable during professional teeth cleanings. 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 they use.
Finally, your teeth are polished with a low-speed rotary brush with a soft rubber tip. We apply a slightly gritty, toothpaste-like gel, and the tip spins around and polishes the teeth, making them smooth and shiny.
A Requirement for Good Oral Health
Most people don’t feel any noticeable discomfort during dental cleanings. Some even report they enjoy the experience, especially the dramatic results! If you haven’t had a cleaning in a while, it may take you a moment to get used to it. If you experience any discomfort, it may be possible to apply a topical numbing gel or another type of anesthetic.
In the event of irritated gums due to bacterial buildup, they may become sore or bleed 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. It will also give you the best chance of keeping your teeth for life!
Galloway Dental offers general and cosmetic dentistry to Texans living in the Mesquite, Sunnyvale, Lake Highlands, East Dallas, South Garland, and Balch Springs areas. Dr. Mehta and his team offer immediate or periodic teeth cleanings in Mesquite, TX. Call 469.273.1376 today for an appointment. Get the smile you want today!