Even if you regularly brush your teeth, you can still develop a soft, sticky build up of plaque on the teeth and along the gum line. You may also develop tartar deposits in between the teeth, even when you floss at least once a day. In addition, the calcium in your saliva that helps mineralization of the teeth may cause unseemly black, brown, or chalky white deposits on the teeth. When not properly cleaned, any of these deposits provides a breeding ground for harmful bacteria in the mouth that can cause tooth decay, gum disease, and a host of other dental problems. A professional dental cleaning will remove these deposits, leaving your teeth feeling smooth and squeaky clean. These regular dental cleanings can also remove the dental stains that can naturally build up on teeth over time.
How are dental cleanings done?
In many cases, it will be a dental hygienist and not your general dentist that will perform a dental cleaning. This hygienist has been specially trained in the best way to remove stains and deposits from teeth. They will use a variety of special instruments, some of which are described in the paragraphs below.
The first tool a dental hygienist will use to remove deposits from your teeth is the ultrasonic tool. This instrument uses vibrations or pulses that will dislodge any larger deposits or debris from the teeth. At the same time, the instrument gently mists water over the teeth to wash away any plaque and tartar deposits that have become loosened. While this tool is being used inside your mouth, you may hear a loud buzzing, humming, or whistling sound. While it may seem quite loud this is deceptive, as the sound is amplified inside your oral cavity.
The ultrasonic tool is curved and rounded, and will not appear sharp. For some patients the vibrations from the tool may tickle. If you are experiencing any discomfort while the hygienist uses this tool , let them know immediately. The vibration settings can be adjusted to make you more comfortable.
If this is your first visit to our office in awhile, using the ultrasonic tool may take longer than usual. The hygienist will want to ensure that all of the larger deposits are knocked loose, and this may take time. In the future, this step will likely not last as long as it does during your initial cleaning.
Fine hand tools
Once the larger debris and deposits have been removed from your teeth, the hygienist will switch to using hand tools. These include curettes and scalers that will be used to scrape away the smaller deposits from between the teeth and below the gum line. The curved tools may appear sharp, but they should not hurt. They are designed to fit the natural curves of your teeth. The hygienist will use a moderate amount of pressure to scrape calcium, plaque, and tartar deposits from the teeth, and it will feel somewhat like your teeth are being scrubbed.
After all of the deposits have been removed from your teeth, your hygienist will use the polisher. This hand tool has a soft rubber piece on the end that is spun by a small motor. A small amount of polishing toothpaste will be applied to the instrument, and this will help to smooth the surface of your teeth, making them shine. This also helps to prevent food, build up, and bacteria from sticking to the teeth in the near future.
In some cases, you may receive a fluoride treatment following your treatment. This will be given to you in the form of a foam or gel that has been carefully measured into special dental trays, and will be left on the teeth for approximately 30 seconds. This helps to strengthen your teeth and gives them extra protection from the natural acids in the food you eat. You will be asked to refrain from eating or drinking for around 30 minutes following your appointment if you receive a fluoride treatment.
Is it going to be painful?
While you may experience some sensations of pressure or even some tickling sensations during your cleaning, this should not be painful. If you do experience any pain or discomfort, it is important that you let your hygienist or dentist know right away so that they can adjust their technique or tool settings to help you feel more comfortable. If you have experienced frequent pain during cleanings in the past or in other offices, let our dentist know before hand. He may recommend that you have your mouth numbed with a local anesthetic before the procedure to ensure you remain comfortable.
Dental cleanings are an important part of your overall dental and overall health regimen. Having your teeth professionally cleaned every six months can help to prevent dental issues such as tooth decay or gum disease before they begin. This can save you the discomfort and expense of having to undergo more difficult and extensive treatments in the future. If you are due for a professional cleaning, call our office today for an appointment. It is our goal to ensure every patient achieves their healthiest smile while remaining calm and comfortable during each visit to our office.