Many people do not get professional teeth cleaning on a regular basis. There are many reasons for this: fear, money or perceived value. Professional teeth cleaning is important and a necessary part of your overall health. It is actually a simple and painless process.

In this column, we will discuss what happens during a cleaning and why cleanings are necessary?

Dental teeth cleaning removes tartar, plaque, stains from crevices and spaces you can’t reach at home.

If you are thinking to yourself “I brush and floss twice a day,” remember food particles and plaque can hide in crevices and grooves. Also, crooked teeth provide more hiding places for germs. If it’s been more than six months since you’ve found yourself in a dental chair, this is a reminder of why teeth cleanings are necessary.

Most teeth cleanings are performed by registered dental hygienists. They are highly trained professionals who focus their attention on preventing and treating oral disease and promoting good dental health. Dentists, especially periodontists are also on the front line in the diagnosing and treating of oral diseases.

X-ray Examination:

When necessary, x-rays are taken to help us see what our eyes cannot see. A definite diagnosis cannot be made without the use of x-rays. Many dentists now use digital x-rays which are accurate, safe and environmentally friendly.

Physical Examination:

The physical exam of your mouth is an important first step toward keeping and getting you healthy. During your cleaning, we look for any redness of the gums and for cavities. Cavities can look like a black or brown spot, a small fracture or a hole in your tooth.

Next, we perform a periodontal (or gum) screening. This is a test for gum redness, swelling or bleeding that identifies whether a gum disease such as gingivitis would be present. Gingivitis can make your gums more sensitive and swollen.

Removal of Plaque and Tartar:

Plaque naturally forms in the mouth and is a sticky film of bacteria that covers the surface of your teeth after eating, especially sugars or starches. Also, plaque produce acids that can attack your teeth for more than twenty minutes after eating. It eats away tooth enamel over time, causing decay and other complications. If not removed, plaque can harden into tartar and eventually lead to gum disease and bone loss.

Tartar forms when plaque is left on teeth long enough that it hardens. It can get so hard that it feels like a piece of rock or sand. At this point, brushing alone won’t remove it. Plaque can then build up on top of the tartar. This bacterial buildup irritates the gums. It can eventually lead to gum disease. So, if you were wondering if regular teeth cleanings are necessary? The answer is absolutely yes!

During the cleaning, we use scalers and ultrasonic devices to remove the plaque and tartar.

After your teeth are completely cleaned, the teeth are polished with a commercial grade paste or brushed with an electric brush or rubber cup. If done by a professional, this polishing of the teeth is safe to do twice a year.

Once the stains, plaque and tartar have been removed; we usually use a device that squirts water into your mouth to rinse the particles away.

Next, you rinse out your mouth with an antiseptic mouth rinse to get rid of any debris. The mouth rinse also kills viruses and bacteria. Mouth rinse is also used as a pre-rinse prior to dental treatment.

The last step of the cleaning process is fluoride treatment. This treatment is used as a protectant for your teeth to help fight against cavities.

Professional cleanings are important so that dentists and hygienists can remove plaque and tartar between teeth which helps to prevent a host of additional health problems. The presence of dental plaque is linked to heart disease, arterial blockage, diabetes and stroke.

Professional teeth cleanings should be scheduled twice a year, while x-rays are normally done within twelve to twenty-four months.

In some cases, you may require additional attention by a Periodontist due to the severity of your condition. The key is to maintain consistency in your visits and return for regular check-ups and preventative cleanings. Preventive care will keep your smile healthy. Also, it will help control your healthcare costs by resolving any issues before it becomes more serious.


Dr. Kendal V. O. Major is Founder and CEO of Center for Specialized Dentistry which is a comprehensive family dental practice operating in Nassau and Freeport. He is the first Bahamian Specialist in gum diseases and dental implants since 1989. He also is a certified Fast braces provider. His practice is located at 89 Collins Avenue, Nassau at (242)325-5165 or [email protected]

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