The hectic pace of today's adult lifestyle often leaves little time for the daily oral health care routine needed to prevent cavities and periodontal disease. This is unfortunate since periodontal disease is the most common cause of tooth loss in adults. An estimated 75% of patients reportedly have some form of periodontal disease.
Early detection of periodontal disease reduces the risk of permanent damage to teeth and gums and can prevent more extensive and costly treatment in later years. Regular professional visits, every six months or as scheduled by our dental hygienist, will help you learn more about proper care for your teeth and gums. Regular professional visits are important because gingivitis, the early stage of periodontal disease, is usually painless; you may not be able to detect it on your own.
Dental cleaning is the removal of dental plaque (a soft, sticky, bacteria infested film) and tartar ('calculus') from the teeth. Dental cleanings are necessary to prevent cavities, gingivitis, and gum disease. If left untreated, severe gum disease can result in tooth loss. Cleaning and polishing of the teeth leaves the surfaces of the teeth clean and smooth so that bacteria are unable to stick to them.
The dental hygienist or dentist will use specialized instruments to gently remove these deposits without harming the teeth. First, the dental hygienist will use an ultrasonic device that emits vibrations to knock larger pieces of tartar loose. The ultrasonic device sprays a cooling mist of water while it works to wash away debris and keep the area at a comfortable temperature. Next, hand tools called scalers and curettes are used to manually remove smaller deposits and smooth the tooth surfaces. These tools are curved and shaped to match the curves of the teeth.
Once all the tooth surfaces have been cleaned of tartar and plaque, the teeth are polished using a slow speed hand piece with a soft rubber cup that spins on the end. Prophylaxis paste which is a special gritty toothpaste-like material - is applied to the teeth to make them shiny and smooth. Your dental hygienist or dentist may also apply fluoride to the teeth to help strengthen the tooth enamel.