Scale & Polish
It is important to visit your oral hygienist every six months to prevent gum disease and tooth decay. Your toothbrush might not have been able to reach all the places and during a professional clean, an oral hygienist can remove the plaque and tartar (calculus) that have built up on your teeth over time.
Saliva, which contains calcium, helps strengthen and protect the teeth. This is a good thing, but it also means that we get a build-up of calcium deposits on the teeth. This substance will eventually build up over time, like limescale in a kettle. It can easily be mistaken as part of the tooth as it is a similar colour, but it can also be brown to black in colour. If the calculus is allowed to accumulate on the teeth, it provides perfect conditions for bacteria to thrive right next to the gums.
Cleaning and polishing leave the surfaces of your teeth clean and smooth so that bacteria cannot stick to them. This means you have a better chance of keeping your teeth clean on your own at home. After the cleaning and polishing, you will look better and your teeth will feel much cleaner too.
How dental cleanings are done
The dentist or oral hygienist uses a number of specialized instruments to remove deposits from the teeth without harming them.
Usually an ultrasonic instrument is used first. It uses vibrations to remove larger pieces of tartar. It sprays a mist of water to rinse away debris and keep the area cool. The device has a humming or high-pitched whistling sound. The instrument’s tips are curved and rounded and by no means sharp since their purpose is to loosen tartar and not to cut into the teeth. The vibration setting can be adjusted to suit the patient, if the sensations are too strong. Larger, harder deposits that have been left for a long time may take longer to remove. So, your first clean may take longer than future cleans.
Fine hand tools
Once the larger pieces of tartar have been removed, the dentist/oral hygienist will use finer hand tools to remove smaller pieces. The tools are shaped to match the curves of your teeth. The smaller deposits are removed by gently scraping them off with a moderate amount of pressure.
Once the deposits have all been removed your teeth will be polished. This is done using a slow speed handpiece with a soft rubber cup that spins on the end. A gritty toothpaste-like material is scooped into the cup and spun around on the teeth to make them shiny and smooth.
This is the final stage of the dental cleaning! If fluoride foam or gel is applied, it is placed into a small, flexible tray. This tray is then placed over the teeth for 30 seconds. Afterwards the patient is directed to spit as much out as possible. The fluoride helps to strengthen the teeth since the acids from bacteria in dental tartar and plaque will have weakened the surfaces. You will be advised not to eat, drink or rinse for 30 minutes after the fluoride has been applied.