Dental cleanings involve removing plaque (a soft, sticky layer of bacteria, food & saliva) and hard tartar (calculus) deposits that have built up on the teeth over time. Your teeth are continually bathed in saliva which contains calcium and other substances which help strengthen and protect your teeth. While this is definitely beneficial, it unfortunately means that we tend to get a build-up of calcium deposits on the teeth. This chalky substance will build up over time, almost like the limescale deposits at the base of your kettle. Usually it is tooth coloured and can easily be mistaken as part of the teeth, but it can also vary from brown to black in colour.
If this tartar is allowed to build up on the teeth, it will unfortunately provide the right conditions for bacteria to thrive beside the gums. The purpose of cleaning and polishing is basically to leave the surfaces of the teeth beautifully clean and smooth so that bacteria are unable to stick to them and so provide you a better chance of keeping the teeth clean during your regular daily hygiene regeme.
we use special instruments to gently remove these deposits without harming your teeth or gums. The instruments which may be used during your cleaning, and what they feel like, are described here
We will often use this instrument first. It uses ‘tickling vibrations‘ to knock larger pieces of tartar loose. It also sprays a cooling mist of water while it works to wash away debris and keep the area at a proper temperature. The device typically emits a humming or high pitched whistling sound as it operates. The ultrasonic instrument tips are curved and rounded and are always kept in motion around the teeth. They are not sharp as their sole purpose is to simply knock tartar loose. If sensations are too strong or ticklish, we can adjust the setting appropriately on our ultrasonic cleaner & modify the pressure applied. If large deposits of tartar have settled on your teeth, it can take some time to remove these, just like trying to remove baked-on grime on a stove that has been left over a long time. So your first cleaning may take longer than future cleanings.
Once the larger pieces of tartar are gone, we will switch to finer hand tools (called scalers and curettes) to remove smaller deposits and smoothen the tooth surfaces. These tools are curved and shaped to match the curves of your teeth. They allow us to remove smaller tartar deposits by carefully scraping them off with a gentle to moderate amount of pressure.
Once all the surfaces are smooth, we will then polish your teeth. Polishing is done using a motorised soft rubber cup. Prophylaxis (short for prophy) paste – a special gritty toothpaste-like material – is scooped up like ice cream into the cup and spun around on the teeth to remove surface stains and leave your teeth beautifully shiny & smooth.