Dental cleaning is the removal of dental plaque (a soft, sticky, bacteria infested film) and tartar (calculus) from the teeth. Dental cleanings are necessary to prevent cavities, gingivitis, and gum disease. If left untreated, severe gum disease can result in tooth loss. Cleaning and polishing of the teeth leaves the surfaces of the teeth clean and smooth so that it is harder for bacteria to adhere to them.
The dental hygienist will use specialized instruments to gently remove these deposits without harming the teeth. First, the dental hygienist will use an ultrasonic device that emits vibrations to knock larger pieces of tartar loose. The ultrasonic device sprays a cooling mist of water while it works to wash away debris and keep the area at a comfortable temperature. Next, hand tools called scalers and curettes are used to manually remove smaller deposits and smooth the tooth surfaces. These tools are curved and shaped to match the curves of the teeth.
Once all the tooth surfaces have been cleaned of tartar and plaque, the teeth are polished using a slow speed hand piece with a soft rubber cup that spins on the end. Prophylaxis paste, which is a special gritty toothpaste-like material, is applied to the teeth to make them shiny and smooth.
Your dental hygienist may also apply fluoride to the teeth to help strengthen the tooth enamel to prevent future tooth decay.
In a deep cleaning, a combination of scaling and root planing is employed to treat early-stage periodontal (gum) disease. While scaling can only remove dental tartar from the surfaces of the teeth, root planing smooths the root surfaces and removing any infected tooth structure. If you have gum disease or gum pocketing, the gum pockets around the teeth will have deepened, thereby allowing tartar deposits to form under the gum-line.
Depending on the depth of the pocket and severity of the root surface irregularity, our doctors and Oral Health Hygienist may numb the area so that the process is comfortable for you.