While most of us don’t enjoy teeth cleaning, it’s absolutely essential for our health. Not only does a tooth cleaning help to prevent cavities, but it also removes plaque. A buildup of plaque is where gum disease starts. Of course, there are also the cosmetic benefits of teeth cleaning: a whiter smile and fresher breath.
Finally, having our teeth cleaned regularly saves money. Regular teeth cleaning, and the checkup that comes with it is far less expensive than root canals, crowns, bridges, and periodontal treatment. It’s very much a case of an ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure.
What to Expect During a Teeth Cleaning
Our dental hygienist will not only clean your teeth, but perform a thorough exam of your teeth and your gums. This exam is essential to identify cavities and periodontal disease in the early stages, while correcting these problems requires only minor treatments.
Removing Plaque and Tartar
Plaque is a soft, sticky deposit which builds up on our teeth over time. Bacteria live and breed in these plaque deposits by the millions. These same bacteria are responsible for tooth decay and gum disease, so removing the plaque where the bacteria live is essential.
Tartar, sometimes called calculus, is hardened plaque. It’s a mineral buildup, and it’s what causes the unsightly yellow or brown deposits on our teeth. While tartar fighting toothpaste can help prevent this buildup, it can only be removed by your dental hygienist.
Your hygienist will use a scaler to get rid of the plaque that has built up since your last visit. The scraping you hear and feel is normal and won’t harm your teeth.
Clean and Polish
Once the plaque and tartar have been removed, a thorough teeth cleaning with a gritty toothpaste and powered brush is next. While this step can make an alarming grinding sound, it’s actually great for your teeth, as it removes any small deposits of plaque or tartar the scaling may have missed.
If you floss at home, this step might seem pointless. But a professional flossing by your hygienist reaches deep between your teeth right to the gum line, removing any buildups your daily flossing might have missed. And if you’re not flossing at home, you need to start! Flossing helps prevent cavities as much as brushing does.
This simple step removes any remaining debris in your mouth that might interfere with the fluoride treatment.
While this step is optional, we highly recommend it. It has long been known that fluoride, a naturally occurring mineral, hardens the enamel on our teeth and makes them much more resistant to tooth decay.
For pediatric care, we use a foam fluoride to be certain of full coverage. For adults, we add a varnish for extra protection, especially for any exposed root areas