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Routine dental cleanings are critical for your oral health, as well as your overall health and well-being. In fact, you can avoid serious oral health issues such as cavities, gum disease, and other dental issues that may result in tooth loss.
"Prophylactic" means to prevent disease, so a prophylactic dental cleaning is used to clean healthy teeth to keep them from being affected by gum disease or tooth decay. During a prophylactic cleaning, plaque and tartar are removed from the front, sides, and back of teeth above the gumline using polishing, floss, and using a mechanical or hand scaler. Many patients only need a prophylactic cleaning, especially if they are practicing appropriate dental hygiene and are visiting the dentist every 6 months for a checkup and cleaning.
This type of cleaning is often referred to as deep cleaning and is used to clean your teeth and gum pockets to treat gingivitis and periodontitis. In the case of gingivitis, the cleaning can typically be done in one appointment. On the other hand, in the case of periodontitis, depending on the severity, you may require multiple appointments and even a local anesthetic.
Scaling is the process of removing plaque and tartar from the surface of the tooth and the gum pockets, which is the area below the gum line. If this plaque and tartar is not removed, gum disease could be a consequence.
This type of cleaning will not only remove the bacteria but will also reduce inflammation of the gums. Root planing smooths the tooth roots, allowing the gums to reattach to your teeth, eliminating gum pockets.
This type of dental cleaning is also designed to treat gum disease. Just like the above type of cleaning, plaque and tartar is removed from the surface of the tooth and the gum pockets- and roots are smoothed as needed. The primary thing that makes this type of cleaning different is that it's typically done more often than other types of cleanings, and involves cleaning the pockets or areas between and under the gums attached to the teeth. Gum disease is a progressive problem that will only worsen if not treated properly.
This cleaning is used for patients who have significant plaque and tartar buildup. They are typically used for patients who have difficulty maintaining proper oral hygiene or have avoided visiting the dentist for a long time. Following gross debridement, scaling and root planing may be necessary.
Over time, plaque hardens into tartar and significant tartar buildup is especially hard, so an electrical tool will be used to loosen it during this cleaning. Once the plaque and tartar buildup has been removed, we will perform a prophylactic cleaning to finish cleaning the teeth.
The dental hygienist or dentist will begin by examining your teeth, gums, and overall oral health. They will use a small mirror and/or a dental probe to check for signs of gum disease, cavities, or other oral health issues.
Using a small metal instrument called a scaler, the dental professional will carefully remove plaque and tartar from your teeth. They will target the areas around the gumline and between the teeth, where plaque and tartar tend to accumulate.
After plaque and tartar removal, the dental professional will use a gritty toothpaste-like substance and a rotating brush or a high-powered electric brush to polish your teeth. This helps remove surface stains and leaves your teeth feeling smooth and clean.
The dental professional will floss between your teeth to remove any remaining plaque or debris. They may also demonstrate proper flossing technique and provide guidance on areas that require extra attention during your home oral hygiene routine.
In some cases, a fluoride treatment may be applied to your teeth. Fluoride helps strengthen tooth enamel and provides additional protection against cavities. It is often administered as a gel, foam, or varnish that is applied to the teeth using a tray or brush.
Throughout the cleaning procedure, the dental professional may provide oral hygiene instructions, such as proper brushing and flossing techniques, recommendations for oral care products, and advice on maintaining good oral health habits.
Once the cleaning is complete, the dentist may perform a final examination to review the hygienist's findings, evaluate any concerns, and discuss treatment options if necessary. They may also address any questions or concerns you have about your oral health.
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