During a dental cleaning, the dentist or hygienist will assess the patient’s teeth to identify areas of damage, decay, and tartar or plaque build up. Using a dental paste and a set of special tools the dentist will clean those areas in addition to the tiny spaces between teeth which can be difficult to clean at home. The dentist will also clean along the gum line where plaque and tartar can form and where bacteria tend to gather. The dentist will also check to see if the plaque and tartar have built up enough to address the patient’s daily habits. If there is a great deal of build up, their daily brushing and flossing routines may need to change. Once the cleaning has finished, the dentist will discuss areas of concern with the patient and provide guidance for moving forward. Typically, a cleaning takes about 30 minutes.
A person should go in for a routine, dental cleaning once every six months. This is the best way to prevent tooth decay and gum disease. Between cleanings it is also important to remember to continue good brushing and flossing habits. Avoiding sugary snacks, which bacteria love, is also very helpful in preventing gum disease and decay which if left unchecked can cause tooth loss. Rinsing after consuming those types of food can also help.
If the gum disease is mild or in its early stages, known as gingivitis, a tooth cleaning can help prevent the condition from getting worse. The dentist may recommend that the patient come back into the office before six months to ensure that the cleaning did in fact stop the gum disease. However, if the gum disease is more advanced or severe a deeper cleaning will be required. These procedures are known as root planing and scaling. These treatments can reach below the gum line to remove bacteria and tartar which has collected near the tooth’s roots. Antibiotics can also be prescribed to help kill any remaining bacteria.
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