One of the most valuable services you can receive from our office is a professional dental or teeth cleaning. In the past, you may have thought of this service as “just a cleaning” or simply “polishing teeth“. You are not alone. In fact, many patients believe that coming in for regular teeth cleaning is not very important.
The truth is, a professional dental cleaning or scaling and teeth polishing is an important service we provide to help you prevent the emergence or growth of dental disease. The medical term for a professional cleaning is Prophylaxis, which is “a measure taken for the prevention of a disease or condition”. In dentistry, a prophylaxis, or professional dental cleaning, functions as just that.
Plaque is a thin film of bacteria that covers the surfaces of your teeth. This layer needs to be brushed off every now and then. If not removed from your teeth and around the gums, it eventually hardens into tartar which can cause a variety of problems in your mouth, including cavities and gum disease. While a large percentage of plaque can be removed by flossing and brushing, tartar can only be removed by using special dental tools and procedures. As tartar (also known as Calculus) forms,
it continues to attract more plaque which leads to the formation of more tartar. Calculus is typically removed by using an ultrasonic device. If tartar exists below the gum line, a deep periodontal cleaning known as scaling and root planing becomes necessary.
Because of this plaque and tartar, the mouth becomes a breeding ground for all types of bacteria and infections; so preventing these problems from overwhelming a person’s defenses is very important. Your oral health and preventing the possible development of gum and bone disease are not the only considerations. Your general health is greatly affected as well! In recent years, the importance of reducing or eliminating mouth bacteria and infections has become well known. While we have always believed that the bacteria that breed and spread in the mouth can have a negative effect on your general health, this fact is finally being recognized by the medical world as a whole. Conditions in the mouth can make systemic diseases (diseases that affect the entire body) much worse. Keeping the oral bacterial load under control has never been more important. Here’s why:
Studies show that bacterial infection and tissue inflammation are important factors in periodontal (gum and bone) disease. Bacterial byproducts and the inflammation they cause in the body can also be major factors in the development of diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and other serious problems. What does this mean? It appears that inflammation is a significant link between systemic (body) disease and oral disease.
Inflammation is the first response of the immune system to injury, infection or irritation. When the body’s immune system senses an infection, a series of reactions begins which are designed to protect the entire body, not just the area directly involved. However, if an infection in the mouth persists, the inflammatory process can never shut down! The body thinks it is under constant attack.
Periodontal (gum and bone) disease typically begins from bacteria growing around the teeth, causing infection and starting up the body’s inflammatory response. This bacterial attack plus inflammatory reaction causes destruction of the gum tissues and bone around the teeth. The first sign of gum disease is bleeding from the gums. You may also experience bad breath starting to develop at this stage. If not treated, the disease progresses to loosen your gums and bone, eventually leading to tooth and bone loss.
A professional cleaning can be the first step in getting your mouth bacteria under control so that your dental health is protected and your immune system can function normally. This procedure involves the use of ultrasonic vibrations in conjunction with water to remove any plaque, calculus (tartar), debris or stains deposited onto the tooth surface. The purpose of the ultrasonic vibrations is to make the tartar loose and detach them from the tooth surface and not to cut into the tooth. If the sensations are too strong, the settings will be adjusted along with the applied pressure to make the procedure more comfortable for you. After scaling, teeth polishing is done with a special fluoridated paste and a teeth polishing brush or a rubber cup which is spun around the teeth to make them shiny & smooth. You are advised to get this professional teeth cleaning done once in every six months to maintain appropriate health of your teeth. A dental or teeth cleaning appointment also gives us the opportunity to assess any treatments that may be necessary, such as catching cavities when they are small or treating gum disease in the early stages so that it does not build into something serious.