Dental cleanings are performed by our registered dental hygienists and are a critical component of maintaining dental health. During your appointment, the hygienist will remove dental plaque, a sticky, almost invisible film that forms on your teeth. (If you scratch your teeth with your fingernail, the white, milky substance you see is plaque.) Plaque is made of bacteria, food debris, and saliva and produces toxins which infect and inflame the gums. If not eliminated, this inflammation can lead to periodontal (gum) disease.
Plaque which has remained on your teeth for an extended period of time will take calcium out of your saliva and turn it into calculus, which is commonly referred to as tartar. Calculus cannot be removed by brushing, flossing, and rinsing. It can only be removed by the hygienist. If calculus is not removed it will cause inflammation of the gums and lead to periodontal disease.
After removing plaque and tartar, the hygienist will polish your teeth to remove any remaining plaque and stains. A fluoride application, fluoride concentrated toothpaste, chlorhexidine, or fluoride varnishes may be recommended.
The hygienist will educate you on how you can improve your dental health and the dentist will recommend the length of time between scheduled cleanings, so you can stay on track toward optimal dental health.
The presence of periodontal disease is assessed at your first appointment and at all 6-month appointments. This is done through the use of a calibrated probe between your gum and tooth and determining how much room there is from where your gum is attached to your tooth to the top of the gum. Healthy gums have readings between 1-3millimeters. As gum disease progresses, the number increases.
The first stage of gum disease is gingivitis. An accumulation of plaque and/or the presence of light calculus is noted in the infected area(s). Readings at this stage are typically in the 4mm range. The hygienist will clean those areas and show you where they are so you can keep the condition from returning.
Periodontitis is the advancement of gingivitis. Pockets become deeper, bleeding occurs when the area(s) are touched, and bone begins to deteriorate. If left untreated, this bone loss can lead to tooth loss. Readings for periodontitis are 5mm and above. The dental hygienist will remove the deep deposits of calculus which have caused inflammation of the gum tissue. The roots are then smoothed of all calculus. Depending on the severity of the case, this may take a few appointments. Special toothbrushes, rinses, and cleaning products will be recommended to help reduce the depth of these pockets. Patient compliance is key to controlling periodontitis. If the pockets are not reduced and stay inflamed, surgery may be necessary. It is recommended that patients with periodontitis have their teeth cleaned and checked every 3-4 months.
Pit and Fissure Sealants:
According to the American Dental Association, pit-and-fissure sealants are one of the most effective – yet underutilized – interventions for preventing caries, especially among children. Sealants penetrate and seal the pits and groves (fissures) on permanent teeth to create a physical barrier to help prevent decay.
Pit and fissure sealants:
Fluoride is a natural mineral that builds strong teeth and prevents cavities. It works by restoring minerals to the tooth surfaces where bacteria may have eroded enamel. It can inhibit the growth of harmful oral bacteria and further prevent cavities. Patients who have sensitive teeth can also benefit from fluoride therapy.