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What Occurs During a Teeth Cleaning?

Dentists and Dental Procedures
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Regular dental checkups and teeth cleanings are perhaps the most important aspects of dental and oral health. Having a professional teeth cleaning is both a preventative and reactionary method to the buildup of plaque, tartar, and stains, which can cause cavities, gingivitis, and ultimately periodontitis. Experts recommend that you have your teeth professionally cleaned roughly twice per year to ensure the continued health of your teeth and gums. To understand why getting professional teeth cleanings is so important, you should know some details about what occurs during such a procedure.

Professional Teeth Cleaning

The main purpose of a professional teeth cleaning is to remove plaque and tartar from your teeth and gums. Tartar occurs when minerals in your saliva accumulate in plaque on your teeth and provides an excellent breeding ground for further plaque formation. Even those with the most thorough home-brushing and flossing habits can be at risk for tartar accumulation, since there are always places in your mouth where a toothbrush or floss cannot reach. There are three main components to a teeth cleaning:

  • Tooth scaling is a component of deep cleaning and involves using several different implements to eliminate the harmful bacteria that cause gum inflammation, such as plaque and tartar. Additionally, scaling can remove stains that accumulate on your teeth.
  • Root planning, also a component of deep cleaning, is a procedure whereby a dentist or dental hygienist removes the tartar that accumulates on roughened dentin—the part of the tooth under the enamel—and cementum—dentin under the gum line. Dentin and cementum are both necessary to healthy teeth, but sometimes tartar can accumulate on them and a professional must remove it.
  • Tooth polishing is typically the last procedure performed during a professional teeth cleaning. After the rough spots on your teeth are gone, a dentist or dental hygienist uses a slightly abrasive compound in conjunction with a pneumatic device with a rubber cup or ball to smooth your teeth, which can make it harder for plaque or tartar to develop and accumulate.

Teeth Cleaning at Home

At home, you should brush and floss your teeth regularly between professional teeth cleanings. Both brushing and flossing can eliminate plaque and the harmful bacteria that can develop and cause gingivitis and periodontitis. Additionally, bacteria that harvest lingering carbohydrates can create acids that wear away and reduce the integrity of your tooth enamel over time, which can lead to cavities and other dental issues. Flossing helps to remove food in areas that a toothbrush cannot reach. Additional implements, such as oral irrigators or special toothpicks, can remove leftover food from your teeth and gums.

Experts recommend you have a professional teeth cleaning twice per year to ensure your oral health. Additionally, you must practice a regular brushing and flossing habit at home to maintain your oral health and prevent gingival and periodontal disease from developing. If you are experiencing any type of dental pain or have not had your teeth cleaned recently, you should contact a dentist near you.

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