Having a professional teeth cleaning twice a year is an essential part of keeping your teeth and gums healthy. A visit with the dental hygienist takes less than an hour and is painless for most patients. It is an easy investment for maintaining your oral health.
Why are routine cleanings so important?
Bacteria live within your mouth, on the surfaces of your teeth and gums. This is totally normal. Some strains of bacteria in your mouth actually contribute to keeping you healthy.
There is one problem with the bacteria living in your oral cavity, however: biofilm.
Bacteria colonies create a biofilm, or mass of bacteria, that coats the surface of your teeth and gums. You will likely see it as a white or yellow slime. If this biofilm is not removed regularly, it will start to build-up. And this can lead to a number of problems.
- The bacterial build-up can start producing acids that can damage the surface of the teeth. This is what causes tooth decay.
- The biofilm can also calcify into tartar, which cannot be removed by routine brushing and flossing.
- If left untreated, the biofilm can trigger inflammation along the gumline. This the early stage of periodontal disease.
- With time, untreated periodontal disease can trigger periodontitis, which is an advanced infection of the gums which can destroy the underlying bone.
Routine brushing and flossing can remove a good deal of the biofilm on the teeth and gums. However, a professional dental cleaning, once or twice a year, is necessary to remove it completely.
What can you expect during a professional teeth cleaning?
When you visit the dentist for a cleaning, the hygienist is the first person you will see on the visit. The dental hygienist is specially trained to clean the teeth, examine the mouth for trouble signs, and provide other oral health services.
- The hygienist will first examine the mouth for any obvious problems.
- After that, the hygienist will use a special tool to remove any tartar build-up.
- With the tartar gone, the next step is to use a special polishing compound to deep clean and polish the surface of the teeth. This step helps remove surface stains and gives you that shiny smile.
- Flossing comes next. This removes any loose flakes of tartar still remaining between the teeth.
- The last step in a professional teeth cleaning is to apply fluoride to the teeth to prevent tooth decay.
Cleanings are often combined with routine exams so that you can have everything done in one visit.