Every day our mouths are full of sugary, sticky food. Bacteria from that food causes a biofilm called plaque that deposits on top of the plaque that naturally starts forming minutes after we brush our teeth. If not removed from the teeth, plaque hardens (calcifies) into dental calculus (also called tartar). Calculus builds up between teeth and between your teeth and gums and can cause gums to become irritated or infected. Chronic infection of the gums is called gingivitis (gum disease) and can lead to periodontitis (loss of bone around the teeth). Again, all of these conditions are not just affecting your mouth but are also linked to many other medical issues, including diabetes, dementia and heart disease.
Daily flossing and brushing can get rid of plaque. But, once it becomes calculus, it is too tough to be scraped off with floss or a toothbrush—that’s where your dental hygienist comes to the rescue. During a professional cleaning, your hygienist first scales your teeth, scraping the calculus off with special hygiene instruments. Once your teeth are calculus-free, your hygienist polishes them with a rotary tool and a paste that removes minor stains and restores the enamel to its cleanest, smoothest condition to discourage plaque from adhering easily.
While most people need regular cleanings, some have so much calculus built up that they need extra care. This additional buildup may be caused by age, hereditary factors, or poor oral hygiene (which includes skipping regular cleanings). If your dentist recommends deep cleaning, it’s very important to follow through with this recommendation. The difference in a regular and a deep cleaning (also called scaling and root planing) is that the hygienist will be removing calculus that has accumulated far below the gum line and you will, most likely, require anesthesia to avoid discomfort during the procedure. It is very important to assure that all tooth surfaces below tissue are smooth as this is the area where chronic irritation of the tissue and bone will lead to periodontal disease (bone loss).
Our skilled hygienists will clean your teeth and keep you comfortable. Regular cleanings are typically painless, but if you are particularly sensitive, we can provide options to make you comfortable during the procedure. Anesthesia is generally recommended for deep cleanings, but everyone is different, so please be comfortable in telling us about your past experiences and what will make you most comfortable.