Oral Hygiene Begins at Home and Should Continue at the Dentist Office
Regularly brushing and flossing are the most beneficial things you can do at home to minimize visits to the dentist for cavities or other nasty oral health issues. Most people have been brushing two or three times a day since childhood. But because tooth brushing is such a daily routine it’s easy to cut corners and not be as thorough as needed.
When a dentist or dental hygienist cleans your teeth they remove soft (plaque) and hard (tartar, calculus, or stains) deposits from your teeth. The primary purpose of having your teeth cleaned is to prevent or delay the progression of cavities, gingivitis and periodontal (gum) diseases. Your dentist and hygienist examine your mouth in ways you can’t do on your own by standing in front of a bathroom mirror. They are professionally trained to spot issues and address them before they become serious. X-ray images may be taken and assist in making the tarter build up under the gums more visible. X-rays also show the current condition of the bone.
Frequency of Professional Tooth Cleaning
The frequency of professional teeth cleaning depends on the health of your teeth and gums. Healthy adults and children should have their teeth professionally cleaned twice a year. Your dentist may suggest additional visits if he or she sees signs of harmful conditions or lack of effective home cleaning.
Reasons for Professional Tooth Cleaning
Dental tooth cleaning can help prevent oral cancer. According to The Oral Cancer Foundation, someone dies from oral cancer every hour of every day in the United States alone. When you have your dental cleaning, your dentist is also screening you for oral cancer, which is highly curable if diagnosed early.
Also, gum disease can be treated and reversed if diagnosed early. Gum disease is an infection in the gum tissues and bone that keep your teeth in place and is one of the leading causes of adult tooth loss. If treatment is not received, a more serious and advanced stage of gum disease may follow. Regular dental cleanings and check-ups, flossing daily and brushing twice a day are key factors in preventing gum disease.
Three Ways to Detect Periodontal Disease
X-Rays reveal the condition of the bone and tartar build up under gums.
Clinical examination where your dentist can visually check the amount of plaque and tarter build up as well as the color and shape of the gums as indicators for gum disease.
Measuring the pockets that form between the gums and teeth. Destructive bacteria contained in plaque and tarter cause the formation of these pockets. Any pocket that measures greater than 3mm is probably an indication of periodontal disease.
Regular Tooth Cleaning
During a regular tooth cleaning your dental hygienist uses instruments and techniques that safely remove plaque and tarter build up. A hygienist will also follow-up by polishing your teeth removing stains caused by things like coffee, tea and smoking. Polishing will further remove anything that may have been missed in the cleaning. The result is a whiter and brighter smile!
Deep Cleaning – Scaling and Root Planing Treatment
When there are deep pockets along the tooth roots due to gum disease and bone recession, it is impossible for the patient to properly clean and keep the gum tissue free of inflammation. A deep cleaning is necessary to remove the inflammation and debris and sometimes this would be done prior to gum surgery.
Deep cleaning, or scaling and root planning, is normally performed by your dentist or dental hygienist in a couple of visits. The exact number of visits however depends on your dentist and the amount of tarter build up. Often your dentist will choose to administer local anesthetic to make the procedure virtually painless. The goal of the procedure is to eliminate the infection by removing the bacteria containing plaque and tarter that has attached to your teeth and their roots under the gum.
The deep cleaning is either done manually or with an ultra-sonic instrument called a Cavitron, or sometimes a combination of the two. Both techniques loosen and remove plaque and tarter build up.
In addition, antibacterial irrigants or local antibiotics such as Arestin may be used in conjunction with the cleaning procedure to further reduce the number of bacteria around the gums.
Periodontal Follow-up Care
Periodontal disease cannot currently be cured; it can only be controlled, so it is important to follow your dentist’s recommendations for follow-up maintenance and treatment. In addition to routine checkups, performing proper dental hygiene at home is of course also important to help prevent the reoccurrence of this destructive disease.