Even if you brush and floss your teeth faithfully, it is important that you have your teeth professionally cleaned on a regular basis.
Dentists have a special term for preventive procedures like tooth cleaning: prophylaxis, from the Greek word meaning “to protect” or “guard against”. In this case, the focus is on preventing tooth decay and gum disease.
Performed in conjunction with a routine dental examination, a professional cleaning can go a long way toward controlling these two common maladies. While your teeth are being cleaned, it’s also a good opportunity for Dr. Becker and his staff to screen for developing dental problems such as gum disease or tooth decay.
Patient-Focused Dentistry in Ellicott City
As a family dentistry practice, we provide each of our patients with a friendly, personalized and gentle experience. If we see signs of instability, we can help you avoid bigger problems down the road with conservative treatment options and techniques to maintain your oral health at home.
The Professional Cleaning Procedure
Teeth cleaning is performed by a dental hygienist — a highly trained technician who uses a special set of tools designed just for this purpose. Because everyone’s teeth are a little different, your cleaning will be tailored to your particular needs. However, many cleanings follow a similar pattern:
First, the dental hygienist will do an oral examination to evaluate the health of your oral tissues.
Then the cleaning will take place using either an ultrasonic scaler or metal instruments referred to as curettes to remove the plaque and calculus from the tooth surfaces. The ultrasonic scaler is a hand-held tool with a tiny tip that vibrates at a very high frequency. Hardened deposits are broken up by the rapid movement of the tip, which does not damage the tooth. A constant stream of liquid (called lavage) serves to cool the tip and aid in plaque removal; at the same time, it also washes away the debris.
Some hygienists prefer curettes, which are hand-held instruments that are curved and tapered to fit around and in between the teeth. If your teeth are sensitive, using hand-held instruments may be more comfortable for a professional cleaning. In the capable hands of a hygienist or dentist, it takes only moderate pressure to remove any stubborn buildup and scrub the teeth clean, regardless of which instruments are used.
Finally, your teeth are polished with a low-speed rotary brush fitted with a soft rubber tip. A slightly gritty, toothpaste-like gel is applied, and the tip spins around and polishes the teeth, making them smooth and shiny.