The primary goals of a dentist or a dental hygienist in a teeth cleaning appointment are to remove food debris, plaque and tartar surrounding the teeth and gums. Teeth cleaning at a dentist’s office is also called “dental prophylaxis”. Prophylaxis usually involves cleaning of the tooth surfaces above the gingiva, areas hidden under the gingiva and application of anti-bacterial medication if required. Dentists usually recommend prophylaxis at least twice annually but it can be performed once in 3-4 months in people with severe gum diseases.
Why does one need professional cleaning? Won’t regular brushing and flossing suffice?
Regular brushing and flossing help only to get rid of loosely attached or trapped food debris between the teeth and gums. But over long periods of time, a sticky soft layer gets accumulated over the surface of teeth providing an ideal environment for bacteria to thrive and grow. This slimy germ rich layer is called plaque. The saliva released in our mouth contains calcium molecules which can get deposited on this slimy layer forming a chalky hard off-white deposition called tartar. It is impossible to get rid of tartar by just brushing and flossing thus professional intervention is required. Professional teeth cleaning helps to eliminate these bacterial deposits completely and render the tooth surface clean and smooth so that germs can no longer stick to them.
What are the steps in prophylaxis treatment?
Prophylaxis can involve the following steps:
- Supra-gingival cleaning – Involves the removal of plaque and tartar on the teeth surfaces which lie above the gum line.
- Sub gingival cleaning –Essentially recommended in patients who suffer from deep gum diseases (periodontitis). Teeth surfaces lying hidden under the gums are cleaned and polished.
- Root planning– Similar to sub gingival cleaning but includes the cleaning of root surface of the tooth.
- Polishing – The last step in prophylaxis treatment, where your cleaned teeth are polished using a slow speed soft rubber cup mounted on a handpiece with a gritty paste applied to the teeth surfaces.
What instruments are used by the dentist for prophylaxis?
Dental prophylaxis requires specialised cleaning instruments that can easily negotiate the curved anatomy of the teeth to provide the best results .
- Ultrasonic instruments – These instruments use ultrasonic vibration to dislodge the deposits from teeth surfaces. They DO NOT dig, carve or drill into the tooth. Thus, these instruments are painless and completely harmless to the teeth and surrounding gums. Most of the ultrasonic instruments also have provision to spray cool water to wash away the debris and give a soothing feel to the gums. Sometimes you may feel a bit of sensitivity due to the vibrating instruments which can be dealt with by applying a topical anaesthetic to the area.
- Hand scaling tools – Usually used for removal of small finely placed bacterial deposits once the ultrasonic instrument has removed bigger chunks of tartar. These instruments are called scalers and curettes. They are curved with fine tips to match the curvatures of the tooth. Your dental hygienist will scrape away smaller sediments by applying firm but gentle force. Again, these instruments neither drill nor dig into your teeth!
Professional teeth cleaning will make your teeth look brighter and definitely cleaner. Teeth cleaning is the most important and topmost dental procedure designed to not only improve your appearance but also to help prevent harmful gum diseases.
To book a teeth cleaning appointment, contact Green Meadow Dental, 3579B Berlin Turnpike, Newington, CT 06111, phone: (860)-865-0056. Families from Southington find the easy drive to Newington well worthwhile because or our expertise and modern facilities, our friendly dental team and the relaxing disposition of Dr. Mukund. We also serve surrounding areas like Rocky Hill, Southington and Berlin.