What is a Dental Cleaning?

Dental cleaning, also called “scaling and polishing,” involves the removal of a hard substance, called “calculus” or “tartar”. Tartar is simply hardened plaque. Plaque is a film formed on our teeth, gums and tongue. It is important to cleanse our mouths daily to prevent gum disease, bone disease and cavities. The bacteria in plaque release an acid that attacks the tooth surface. Plaque also irritates the gums leading to inflammation, redness, bleeding, and sometimes soreness. This is known as “gingivitis”. Luckily this process is reversible by using proper at home care. If not treated, the bone surrounding the tooth can become affected and begins to breakdown, a process known as “periodontitis” or “periodontal disease”. This unfortunately is irreversible, but can be stabilized. It is usually recommended to have your teeth professionally cleaned at least twice a year. However, in some cases, depending on the health of your gums and bone, it may be recommended more frequently to maintain and prevent periodontal issues. Between professional cleanings it is essential to practice good oral hygiene to prevent the build up of plaque and tartar. This is accomplished by daily tooth brushing and flossing. Ask your dentist or hygienist for proper home care instructions and lessons.