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While brushing and flossing play an important role in reducing tartar building and the risk of periodontal teeth, home hygiene practices by themselves are not sufficient to cope with these issues. Professional cleanings can deal with plaque and bacteria lurking beneath the gum line, an essential step for keeping teeth secure while preventing infection. That's why Polles Center for General and Cosmetic Dentistry offers dental cleanings.
Bacteria are the principal enemy of teeth and gums. Teeth tend to collect a mixture of food and saliva known as plaque, and this plaque attracts bacteria. As the bacteria feed on the plaque, a hard substance known as tartar begins to form, the rough of surface of which causes even more food and bacteria to stick to it. Bacteria can easily move from the exposed enamel down into the periodontal pockets of the gums, attacking tooth roots and the connective tissues that anchor them to the jawbone. This type of periodontal disease can lead to inflamed gums, pain and tooth loss unless it is treated. Dental cleaning, however, can help prevent the problem from ever reaching this stage, making it a critical aspect of dental wellness.
A routine dental cleaning is relatively simple and should cause little if any discomfort for the patient. We begin by removing surface plaque and tartar with high-pressure water or ultrasonic tools. More stubborn underlying tartar can then be removed by hand with a specially-designed scraping implement. This process allows us to remove a certain amount of tartar buildup in the periodontal pockets as well, allowing for more comprehensive cleaning than any toothbrush could provide. We do brush the teeth, but instead of a traditional toothbrush, we use a rotary device to apply a gritty paste that polishes any remaining tartar from the tooth surfaces. Patients receive a fluoride solution to provide protection against decay for their newly-polished teeth. Patients seeking a dental cleanings should do so twice a year as part of a general dental checkup.
Deep scaling and root planing is another type of dental cleaning for patients with significant tartar buildup on the roots of their teeth. This buildup can be a consequence of going for a long period between cleanings and is typically evident in, or related to, cases of periodontal disease.
Deep scaling involves removing tartar using the same water pressure, ultrasonic tools and manual techniques mentioned above, but it focuses on the area beneath the gum line. Root planing is a process of scraping away any roughness that we feel on the root surface, since these are most likely accumulations of bacteria-laden tartar. Patients may have their entire mouth receive this type of cleaning, or we may recommend working on one quadrant of the mouth at a time. These procedures may take time, but they can help people keep their natural teeth for life.
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