Looking after your teeth can sometimes seem like a very complex matter. As treatments become more advanced and utilise technologies such as lasers and 3D scanning the world of dentistry can seem to be one which is far removed from the ordinary person. There are some things which stay simple, however, and chief amongst these are the fact that bad teeth are a sign of, or can lead to, poor overall health, and that the most vital part of keeping your teeth healthy is simply keeping them clean. To this end, most people know full well that they have to clean their teeth twice a day using a good toothpaste and the right brush. On top of this, it’s vital to floss between the teeth and use a mouthwash to rinse any particles of food or bacteria which may still be present. With the best will in the world, however, the average person can’t possibly achieve the same results as those which a professional cleaning by a dental hygienist will be able to bring about.
There’s no doubt that many people reading this will be wondering what all the fuss is about – surely they can transform the appearance of their smile by just accessing teeth whitening treatment? Whilst bleaching can have a stunning effect, there is simply no alternative to making sure that your teeth are as clean as they possibly can be. It’s not simply a question of the appearance of your teeth, a professional cleaning will help to deal with problems of which you, as a patient, may not even be aware. Amongst the difficulties which your dental hygienist will tackle are the following:
Plaque – plaque is the sticky clear or white substance which coats the teeth. It is made up of bacteria and, when left in place it produces an acid which will attack the enamel of your teeth. Whilst proper brushing can remove the majority of the plaque present in your mouth, it will take a professional to remove that which is hidden in places such as along the gum line or on the back surface of the teeth.
Calculus – also known as tartar, this is a hard substance which is formed when plaque is not properly removed. If left in place it will attract more bacteria and thus cause more damage.
Gingivitis – this is the first stage of what is commonly referred to as ‘gum disease’. It occurs when the bacteria present in plaque attacks the gums, causing them to become swollen and painful. The early signs of gingivitis are painful, tender gums and bleeding when brushing your teeth. If left untreated, gingivitis can develop to become the more serious Periodontitis.
Periodontitis – this occurs when swollen and inflamed gums are left untreated and become infected. The infection can attack both the roots of the tooth and the actual bone of the jaw itself, resulting in teeth which shift, become loose and, eventually, fall out altogether.
It should also be remembered that the bacteria present in plaque have also been linked to illnesses such as heart disease.
If your oral hygienist decides that your teeth require a professional cleaning then there are various different steps which they can opt to take. The actual approach they take will be determined by such factors as the extent of plaque, calculus or gum disease which is present, allied to your overall dental health. Amongst the options which they may opt for are the following:
Teeth Cleaning – a process also known as prophylaxis. This is the most basic form of treatment and involves the removal of plaque which home cleaning hasn’t been able to deal with. Your dental hygienist will embark upon this treatment provided there are no signs of in-depth problems such as gum disease. They will clean your teeth using specialist hand-held tools and equipment such as an ultrasonic scaler and a polishing cup.
Full Mouth Debridement – this is basically a cleaning, but one which is given to patients with a higher build-up of tartar or calculus, having not had their teeth professionally cleaned for over a year. The process involved is similar to that of a simple cleaning, but may take longer and be more in-depth.
Gingival Bacterial Reduction – this is a cleaning treatment designed for those patients whose gums have become swollen and infected. It basically consists of the steps involved in a simple cleaning, allied to the application of a laser light intended to kill bacteria.
Periodontal Maintenance – once treatment for periodontal disease has been carried out, the effects need to be maintained by carrying out specialised cleaning every eight, ten or twelve weeks.
If you don’t maintain the highest levels of cleanliness within your mouth it can have serious ramifications upon your overall good health. Too much plaque can lead to swollen gums which, left untreated, can become entrenched and infected. This can lead to the teeth in question being at risk and can also mean that the infection present has a chance to spread throughout the body. By having your teeth professionally cleaned two or three times a year you should be able to make sure that your teeth remain attractive and healthy.