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What are dental cleanings (scale and polish) and why have them?
Dental cleanings involve removing plaque (soft, sticky, bacteria infested film) and tartar (calculus) deposits that have built up on the teeth over time. Your teeth are continually bathed in saliva which contains calcium and other substances which help strengthen and protect the teeth. While this is a good thing, it also means that we tend to get a build-up of calcium deposits on the teeth. This chalky substance will eventually build up over time, like limescale in a pipe or kettle. Usually, it is tooth coloured and can easily be mistaken as part of the teeth, but it also can vary from brown to black in colour.
If the scale or calculus (tartar, as dentists like to call it) is allowed to accumulate on the teeth it will, unfortunately, provide the right conditions for bacteria to thrive next to the gums. The purpose of the cleaning and polishing is basically to leave the surfaces of the teeth clean and smooth so that bacteria are unable to stick to them and you have a better chance of keeping the teeth clean during your regular home care.Also it leaves your teeth feeling lovely and smooth and clean, which is nice when you run your tongue around them. Actually, come to think of it, there's nothing worse than someone you fancy running their tongue around your teeth and finding a piece of spinach or something! Still, if they're hungry
The professional cleaning of teeth is sometimes referred to as prophylaxis (orprophy for short). It's a Greek word which means 'to prevent beforehand' - in this case, it helps prevent gum disease.
How are dental cleanings done?
The dental hygienist or dentist uses specialized instruments to gently remove these deposits without harming the teeth. The instruments which may be used during your cleaning, and what they feel like, are described below.
Commonly used first is an ultrasonic instrument which uses tickling vibrations to knock larger pieces of tartar loose. It also sprays a cooling mist of water while it works to wash away debris and keep the area at a proper temperature. The device typically emits a humming or high pitched whistling sound. This may seem louder than it actually is because the sound may get amplified inside your head, just like when you put an electric toothbrush into your mouth.
The ultrasonic instrument tips are curved and rounded and are always kept in motion around the teeth. They are by no means sharp since their purpose is to knock tartar loose and not to cut into the teeth. It is best to inform the operator if the sensations are too strong or ticklish so that they can adjust the setting appropriately on the device or modify the pressure applied.
With larger deposits that have hardened on, it can take some time to remove these, just like trying to remove baked-on grime on a stove that has been left over a long time. So your cleaning may take longer than future cleanings. Imagine not cleaning a house for six months versus cleaning it every week. The six-month job is going to take longer than doing smaller weekly jobs.
Fine hand tools
Once the larger pieces of tartar are gone, the dental worker will switch to finer hand tools (called scalers and curettes in dental-speak) to remove smaller deposits and smoothen the tooth surfaces. These tools are curved and shaped to match the curves of the teeth. They allow smaller tartar deposits to be removed bycarefully scraping them off with a gentle to moderate amount of pressure. Just like taking a scrubbing brush to a soiled pot, the dental worker has to get the areas clean and smooth.
Once all the surfaces are smooth, the dental worker may polish your teeth. Polishing is done using a slow speed handpiece with a soft rubber cup that spins on the end. Prophylaxis (short for prophy) paste - a special gritty toothpaste-like material - is scooped up like ice cream into the cup and spun around on the teeth to make them shiny smooth.
Your dentist may also apply fluoride. This is the final, and my favorite part of the dental cleaning! Fluoride comes in many different flavours such as chocolate, mint, strawberry, cherry, watermelon, pina colada and can be mixed and matched just like ice cream at a parlour for a great taste sensation! Make no mistake though, this in-office fluoride treatment is meant for topical use only on the surfaces of the teeth and swallowing excessive amounts can give a person a tummy ache as it is not meant to be ingested.
Fluoride foam or gel is then placed into small, flexible foam trays and placed over the teeth for 30 seconds. Afterwards, the patient is directed to spit as much out as possible into a saliva ejector. The fluoride helps to strengthen the teeth since the acids from bacteria in dental tartar and plaque will have weakened the surfaces. It is best not to eat, drink or rinse for 30 minutes after the fluoride has been applied.
Is it going to be painful?
Most people find that cleanings are painless, and find the sensations described above - tickling vibrations, the cooling mist of water, and the feeling of pressure during 'scraping' - do not cause discomfort. A lot of people even report that they enjoy cleanings and the lovely smooth feel of their teeth afterwards! There may be odd zingy sensations, but many people don't mind as they only last a nanosecond.
Be sure to let your dentist/hygienist know if you find things are getting too uncomfortable for your liking. They can recommend various options to make the cleaning more enjoyable.
Painful cleaning experiences can be caused by a number of things: a rough dentist or hygienist, exposed dentine (not dangerous, but can make cleanings unpleasant), or sore gum tissues.
In case you may have had painful cleaning experiences in the past, switching to a gentle hygienist/dentist and perhaps a spot of nitrous oxide can often make all the difference. You could also choose to be numbed. If you find the scaling a bit uncomfortable because the gum tissues (rather than the teeth themselves) are sensitive, topical numbing gels can be used.
My gums are bleeding for a few weeks now, I dnt have a gr8 oral hygiene, NY shift and work barely gives me time to visit a doc.
I have some fleshy(gum) like small structures on upper jaw at the ends of last molars feeling from last 10 years.Without pain.What can it be ?
Braces aren't just for teenagers – it’s never too late to improve your dental health and beautify your smile. About 1 million Americans over the age of 18 wear braces. Your Orthodontist can help you determine if orthodontic treatment is the right option for you. You can also request an evaluation and receive treatment from an orthodontist, a specialist in diagnosing, preventing and correcting malocclusions.
Dr. Bikramjeet singh
When I drink cold water and eat the ice cream then start the pain in my teeth. Why start the pain in my teeth and gum?
I have sensitivity in my teeth for 2 year. I have been using a sensodine tooth pest but no effect. What should I do now - Ajay Kumar Dubey.
Actual my teeth is automatically cut upper parts of the teeth, what is the reason please give reason.
You may not look forward to a dental examination, but you can't avoid it. A dental checkup every six months is crucial to your dental health and to maintain that beautiful smile. Skipping a dental checkup may save you time and a little discomfort now, but can cost you much more pain, time and money in the long run.
Here are 6 reasons to maintain a regular dental check up schedule:
- Fight Cavities: A clean up is a big part of a dental examination. No matter how well you brush and floss, there will always be spots that you miss out on. With time, plaque and tartar can build up in these spots leading to cavities if not addressed in time. The worst part about cavities is that you can feel them only once the tooth has been damaged. Thus, if you skip your dental examination, you may need a filling instead of a simple cleaning.
- Prevent gum disease: Plaque and tartar affect not only your teeth, but your gums as well leading to diseases like gingivitis and periodontitis. These are marked by shrinking of the gums that makes teeth sockets loose and eventually lead to tooth loss. Gum disease treatment can be very painful and expensive hence it is best to get plaque and tartar cleaned regularly before they begin to cause a problem.
- A brighter smile: Your daily cup of coffee or tea can stain your teeth with time. Wine and cigarettes also contribute towards making your teeth look dull. A professional dental cleaning can help remove these stains and give you a brighter smile.
- Find hidden problems: X rays are also an important part of a dental examination. An X-ray can detect problems that lie under the surface like misaligned teeth, bone decay, tumors and cysts. These problems rarely show any symptoms in their early stages and hence without an X-ray you would have to wait for it to advance to a more painful stage before seeking treatment.
- Boost overall health: Regular dental checkups can also lower your risk for heart disease and stroke. In addition to checking your mouth, a dentist will also check neck, jaw and lymph nodes during a regular check up for swelling and other abnormalities. This can help in the early detection and treatment of a number of diseases.
- Detect oral cancer: Oral cancer is easily treatable if diagnosed in its early stages. However, the only way to diagnose this correctly is by visiting the dentist. A test for oral cancer is pain free and takes hardly any time.
So, think about it. Visiting the dentist may make you a little uncomfortable but in the long run is well worth.