Spring Cleaning: 5 Steps of Dental Cleaning

Dental plaque is a buildup of minerals like calcium in our saliva that come in contact with our residual plaque and form a hard deposit called calculus (more commonly known as “tartar”) that adheres to the surface of the tooth.

Failure to remove dental plaque from the teeth allows gingivitis and periodontitis (gum inflammation and infection) to develop. The only way to thoroughly remove this calculus is with a professional dental cleaning by a dentist or dental hygienist every six months.

A professional dental cleaning usually involves five steps. The first step is to measure the depth of the periodontal “pockets” or the space between the teeth and the gums. This helps dentists find and measure pockets of infection, gum recession, root exposure and bone loss.

Usually, your dentist will take a full mouth digital dental radiograph to help find problems below the gumline (such as bone loss, abscesses or fractures). Since the majority of dental disease is found below the gumline, it’s important to use digital radiographs to evaluate the health of your teeth.

The next step is to remove tartar buildup using ultrasonic or pressurized cleaning instruments that act like an electric toothbrush. Following this, dentists will do “hand scaling” and “root planing” with precise hand instruments to remove the stubborn hard dental calculus that adheres to the tooth surface below the gumline and in the spaces between teeth.

The final step is to polish the teeth to remove any residual stains and biofilm. Dentists apply a special fluoride gel or foam to the freshly exposed surface to help strengthen the enamel and prevent tooth sensitivity.

How do you keep with your dental cleanings? Share with us in the comments below.

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