When you go to the dentist for a teeth cleaning, you get more than a simple brushing. A routine cleaning, also known as a prophylaxis, helps to reduce your risk of developing periodontal disease by removing plaque and tartar from your teeth surfaces and around the gumline.
Maintenance Teeth Cleaning
Your dental hygienist will use hand instruments to scrape away hardened plaque, also called tartar, around the gums and between teeth. He or she will then polish your teeth using an abrasive toothpaste that generally contains fluoride. This coarse paste will help remove stains and leave your teeth sparkling!
Periodontal Treatment Teeth Cleaning
If you haven’t visited your dentist in a while (twice a year is recommended), plaque and tartar may have built up on your teeth to a level that is difficult to remove with hand instruments. That’s when a more thorough and intensive cleaning may be required and it may become necessary to go below the gumline to remove the tartar. This is called a periodontal cleaning providing tooth scaling and root planing.
During your periodontal appointment, your hygienist or dentist will need to remove the tartar buildup in between your teeth all the way down the entire length of each tooth to where the gum, root and bone meet. It can be uncomfortable, but your dentist can provide a local anesthetic if needed to prevent pain.
Generally, only half the mouth is done per appointment, therefore several appointments will be required to complete the cleaning.
Periodontal diseases “are mainly the results of infections and inflammation of the gums and bone that surround and support the teeth,” cites the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
In its early stages the gums become swollen and red, and can bleed. This is called gingivitis. As it becomes more serious, periodontal disease can cause the gums to recede from the teeth, leaving pockets that lead to bone and even tooth loss. In statistics provided by the CDC, “periodontal disease increases with age, 70.1% of adults 65 years and older have periodontal disease.”
Often, periodontal disease is indicated by the presence of constant bad breath. This means that food is decomposing below the gumline and problems like infection may be present. Other warning signs include:
- Red, swollen, tender or bleeding gums
- Painful chewing
- Sensitive or loose teeth
- Change in your bite
Teeth Cleaning for Good Oral Health
To keep your teeth clean and your gums healthy, it is recommended to:
- Brush your teeth twice a day and floss to remove bacteria and food scraps
- Visit your dentist twice a year for maintenance cleaning and checkups. Visit more frequently if you have risk factors, symptoms or problems.
Contact Advanced Family Dentistry in Reston, VA
The best way to protect your oral health is through education. We’ll be glad to demonstrate the best ways to brush and floss, and give recommendations based on your individual needs. We also encourage you to read through our other posts in our blog to learn more about how to prevent dental diseases, and the services we can offer to remediate dental issues.
At Advanced Family Dentistry, we serve every member of your family—from young to old. We want to be your family dentist for life! Learn more about our preventive dentistry and other services designed for ultimate oral health.
We’re conveniently located in Reston, Virginia to serve families throughout the DC metropolitan region. Contact us at 703-390-9191 to schedule your next dental appointment.
Dr. Sonny Kim is a Diplomat of the International Congress of Oral Implantologists (ICOI), the highest education level for general dentists in this field.
Advanced Family Dentistry
Dr. Sonny Kim, DMD
11876 Sunrise Valley Dr., Suite 101
Reston, VA 20191