Although you may floss and brush every day, it’s normal for plaque and calculus to still accumulate on your teeth. Even good brushers and flossers might unconsciously focus on particular areas of their mouth more than others and unknowingly miss cleaning a certain area. Professional dental cleanings (dental prophylaxis), usually performed by Registered Dental Hygienists, come with your periodic dental exam and help remove any buildup that has accumulated since your last visit. Prophylaxis is a word that comes from the Greeks and holds the meaning of “advanced guard”, or “prevention”. Once again, prevention is key! In this case, we are preventing the onset of gingivitis, or gum disease. Your cleaning appointment consists of:
Sometimes plaque is hard to see because it’s thin and nearly invisible. A sticky substance, it is actually a colony of living bacteria that is surrounded by saliva and is growing around remaining food debris. Tenderness and puffiness of the gums are signs of inflammation, which is caused by the toxins produced by these bacteria. This inflammation is the start of periodontal disease!
When plaque has been left on the tooth for a long period of time, it hardens into a substance called calculus, also known as tartar. Calculus can easily be seen by the naked eye, appearing as a solid, yellow, hard layer on the tooth. . If ignored, calculus can cause bad breath and receding gums! Forming above and below the gum line, it can only be removed with special dental instruments. A common ultrasonic tool that is used to remove calculus, known as a Cavitron, vibrates around the buildup to dissociate its attachment to the teeth, making it easier and faster for calculus removal.
Teeth Polishing and Flossing:
The final step in all teeth cleanings is the polishing of the tooth surfaces and flossing. The process involves a rubber plastic cup that holds prophy paste, a rough toothpaste-like material that is spread on your teeth when the cup is spun like an electric toothbrush. Teeth polishing help to rid of stains and additional plaque that are left over after brushing and scaling, leaving your teeth with a healthy, fresh, clean feel!