Why Dental Cleanings are Important

Thursday April 25, 2013 by
Melissa Brown, DDS

Why is it important to have regular dental cleanings Recent studies have found a link between gum
disease and heart disease. Good oral hygiene is important to heart health. It is not enough to practice
good oral hygiene at home. Periodic professional dental cleanings are necessary even when teeth are
brushed and flossed daily to ensure overall health and well-being.

Dental Cleanings Attack Plaque

Plaque is a soft sticky substance that sticks to the teeth. When it is not removed, it hardens into calculus or tartar. Tartar buildup leads to gum inflammation and gum or periodontal disease . Periodontal disease affects the gums and bone that support the teeth. How can this condition be prevented and treated? By practicing good oral hygiene at home and scheduling regular dental cleanings.

What to Expect During a Dental Cleaning

The first step in the dental cleaning process is a thorough gum examination. The examination measures the pocket depth of the tissue around each tooth. An instrument called a probe is used for this examination. While a measurement of 3mm or less is considered normal, a measurement of 4mm or more may be a cause for concern.

Next, the hygienist will remove plaque, calculus, and stains both above and below the gum line. Hand
instruments, an ultrasonic scaler, or both may be used during this step. The ultrasonic scaler vibrates
and sprays water simultaneously to quickly remove debris from the teeth.

After the teeth are scaled, they are ready to be polished. This is done in one of two ways. The first way
is by the use of a rotating prophy angle and prophy paste. The second way is with a prophy jet. The
prophy jet sprays water and an abrasive powder such as baking soda onto the teeth. The prophy jet
can be messy, but it very effectively removes stains. The hygienist will now floss the teeth and in some
cases administer a fluoride treatment.

Some patients require a deep cleaning. Deep cleanings are sometimes necessary when it has been
several years since the last cleaning appointment. This is also called scaling and root planing. (SRP)
During this type of cleaning, a local anesthetic may be administered to keep the patient comfortable.
The hygienist will use hand instruments to go slightly below the gums to remove tartar. She may
recommend more frequent cleanings in the future.

Regular dental cleanings are beneficial for overall health. Brush and floss daily, and schedule periodic
cleanings with your dental hygienist.