You've popped along to the dentist for a checkup, and before you know it you're gum-deep in a professional clean. You clean your teeth every day, you floss, and you don't even smoke, so why, you wonder, is your dentist so keen to clean your teeth for you?
It's not exactly pleasant, but having your teeth professionally cleaned by your dentist is important in ensuring your oral health remains excellent. So why exactly do dentists clean your teeth? Read on to find out.
What does professional teeth cleaning do?
A good, professional teeth clean aims to keep your teeth and gums feeling healthy and looking great.
When you brush your teeth you remove plaque from the surface of your teeth, and this is important in preventing the accumulation of bacteria that can cause tooth decay and gum disease. But no matter how vigilant you are, hardened plaque, known as tartar, does build up on the surfaces of your teeth and in the cracks between them. Tartar is impossible to remove at home because it is formed from plaque that has been mineralised, making it very hard. If you've noticed your dentist scraping away between your teeth and along your gum line with a sharp instrument known as a scaler, they are removing tartar from your teeth.
Debridement is another professional treatment used to rid your teeth of plaque and tartar, and your dentist may use anything from saline solution to cracking the built-up tartar with ultrasonic instruments to achieve this.
The next step in a deep dental clean is polishing, and this is largely intended to keep your smile looking and feeling great. Cleaning your teeth at home clears away some of the stains that naturally develop as you eat and drink. Professional polishing is more effective at removing these stains, and it also smooths the surfaces of your teeth that may have become roughened during scaling and debridement.
After removing the plaque and tartar that carry bacteria around your mouth, fluoride is your best defence against tooth decay. Sure, it tastes a little funny, but it's worth it.
How often should you have your teeth professionally cleaned?
You'll find that advice varies, but on the whole dentists recommend having a good professional clean every 6–12 months.
Having your teeth professionally cleaned by a dentist is a vital part in maintaining excellent oral hygiene long into the future. So what are you waiting for?