What’s A Teeth Cleaning?
Teeth cleaning is performed by a trained oral hygienist in the dental practice. It involves removing plaque and tartar from the teeth to prevent bacteria, infection, and decay from threatening both the health of your mouth, and your whole body.
What is Plaque?
Plaque is a soft, sticky film infested with bacteria that lines your teeth and mouth. Plaque forms very quickly and is impossible to remove permanently, which is why regular cleaning at home, and regular checkups at the dentist, are so important.
What is tartar?
Tartar, also known as calculus, is a build-up of calcium around the base of the teeth. Calcium is found in saliva, which helps to strengthen the teeth and keep them healthy. Over time the calcium builds up and forms solid deposits around the base of the teeth. These can only be removed with special scraping tools.
Why Is Teeth Cleaning Necessary?
Teeth cleaning is necessary to prevent gum disease, tooth decay, and other infections within the mouth.
Tartar itself is harmless, but these deposits of calcium provide ideal conditions for bacteria, found in plaque, to thrive. Since tartar builds up around the base of teeth, it places the bacteria right at the line between the gum and the tooth. This gives it easy access to the critical tissues that connect the gum and tooth.
If left unchecked, bacteria here can eat away this tissue and cause inflammation, swelling and bleeding. This is gum disease.
Gum disease is very common. It can typically be kept at bay through proper oral hygiene, and even if it starts it can be effectively stopped early on if you’re consistent with brushing and flossing your teeth.
But if you have poor oral hygiene, gum disease can lead to infections that can get into the bloodstream and increase your risk of cardiovascular illnesses. Worst case scenarios range from loosing teeth, through to fatal heart attacks.
By regularly removing the plaque and tartar from your teeth, you keep your teeth clean and smooth. This prevents bacteria from sticking as easily to them, allowing your regular at-home cleaning routine to be more effective.
How Is Teeth Cleaning Done?
There are multiple tools at an oral hygienist’s disposal to remove plaque and tartar.
These are used to knock away larger pieces of tartar. These use high-frequency vibrations that shake the tartar loose. A cooling spray is typically built into the device which washes away debris and keeps the cleaning site at the proper temperature.
The ultrasonic instrument emits a high pitch whistle or a humming sound. Many people find this unpleasant, others have no issue with it. Simply distraction techniques such as headphones or watching a movie while the hygienist works are available to take your mind off the sound.
There are no sharp points with the ultrasonic tool and they won’t cut your teeth. If you have very sensitive teeth, let the hygienist know so they can adjust the power of the ultrasonic tool accordingly.
The more tartar there is, the longer it will take to dislodge. Regular checkups will take less time per visit than if you wait long periods between cleanings.
Scraping tools, known as scalers or curettes, are used to remove the finer pieces of tartar that the ultrasonic tool can’t get. These have fine, curved tips on them to allow them to get into all of the recesses of the mouth around the teeth and ensure the whole tooth is smoothed down.
Once the plaque and tartar are removed, the teeth are generally given a polish by the hygienist. This is done with a slow speed hand-piece with a soft rubber tip on it. A gritty toothpaste-like material is rubbed onto the teeth using the rubber end of the polishing device.
Fluoride Mouth Wash
The final step usually involves a fluoride mouthwash. This can actually have several distinct flavours, so as chocolate, strawberry, or mint. This fluoride treatment helps strengthen your teeth surfaces, since the acids from the bacteria in the plaque and tartar will have weakened them.
At-Home Care Tips
Many people are sick of hearing it, but it’s crucially important to brush and floss twice a day! Despite being something most people in the country do, many people still aren’t doing it quite right. Here are some quick tips to help you get the most out of your brushing and flossing.
- Brush for at least three minutes at a time. Any less doesn’t get the full effect and won’t clean your teeth as thoroughly.
- Use the sides of the bristles when brushing instead of the top. Scraping the teeth too hard can make the surfaces rougher and give bacteria better places to hold onto. By using the side of the brush bristles, you ensure a more gentle brushing.
- Brush your gums. It’s actually more important to make sure your gums are brushed than your teeth, as they’re the most susceptible to bacteria and the place you need to worry about the most. It’s especially important to be gentle here, as harsh brushing will cut the gums and risk infection.
- Brush your tongue. You’d be surprised how much bacteria ends up sitting there. A quick brush of the tongue will help ensure the overall health of the mouth.
- Brush before eating. It’s best to brush your teeth a half hour or so before eating. When you eat, your mouth releases a lot of saliva and enzymes which will soften the surface of your teeth. Harsh brushing at this point will just give bacteria a better hiding spot. Instead, brush about half an hour before. It’ll also help prevent bits of food sticking to your teeth in the first place.
Wrap the floss around your middle fingers and use your index (pointer) fingers to manipulate the floss string. This will give you greater control over the floss and allow you to reach those more awkward places.
When was your Last Teeth Cleaning?
Has it been over 6 months since your last teeth cleaning? Book online today at our North Hill location to see one of our dentist hygienists!