There are two types of dental cleaning, or tooth cleaning. There is cleaning your teeth at home and there is a professional dental cleaning that takes place in your dentist’s office.
PROFESSIONAL TEETH CLEANING
At the very least, we should all visit the dentist twice a year for a professional teeth cleaning treatment to prevent the excessive build-up of plaque. Left untreated, plaque can lead to tooth decay and diseased gums. People often neglect the simple chore of visiting their dentist for a good teeth cleaning.
The term, plaque, may seem innocuous enough but when you take into account what it really is, a biofilm built up from a thousand different species of colonizing bacteria trying to attach themselves to your teeth’s surface, this should send you running to the dentist as often as possible for regular tooth cleaning! Inefficient cleaning of teeth can result in a build-up of plaque that turns into an unsightly yellow substance called calculus or tartar around the teeth near the gum line. Calculus is visible in the mirror without using dental tools and is a sure sign that cleaning teeth is long overdue.
TOOTH CLEANING PROCEDURES
A professional dental cleaning involves scaling, polishing and root planing.
- Scaling – This is the removal of plaque and tartar from the surface of the teeth using a variety of techniques. Traditionally, this phase of teeth cleaning has been done manually by a hygienist. Now there are electric scalers that can tackle the tooth cleaning job more thoroughly and in less time.
- Polishing – Tooth polishing is a teeth cleaning procedure that involves smoothing the tooth’s surface to make it harder for plaque-forming organisms to accumulate.
- Root planing – This is a specialized type of tooth cleaning that involves scaling the root of the tooth. The root is made of a special enamel called cementum. Cementum is softer than enamel and therefore more vulnerable to plaque-forming and inflammatory agents.
CLEANING YOUR OWN TEETH
The more effective we are at cleaning our own teeth, the easiest it will be when we go to the dentist’s office for a teeth cleaning. Although we have been cleaning our teeth since toddlerhood, it never hurts to go over a few simple principles for efficient teeth cleaning at home:
- Concentrate on the nooks and crannies, the tiny spaces in between teeth and close to the gums to remove all plaque and old food.
- Brush for at least two minutes, twice a day, in the morning and at night. Cleaning your teeth at least this frequently will help keep plaque at bay.
Visiting your dentist twice a year for a professional dental cleaning and cleaning your own teeth according to the principles above should protect your teeth and gums and keep you smiling brightly from childhood to well into your retirement.