A dental cleaning is the removal of dental plaque (a soft, sticky, bacteria infested film) and tartar (calculus) from the teeth. Dental cleanings are necessary to prevent cavities, gingivitis, and gum disease. If left untreated, severe gum disease can result in tooth loss. Cleaning and polishing of the teeth leaves the surfaces of the teeth clean and smooth so that bacteria are unable to stick to them.
The dental hygienist or dentist will use specialised instruments to gently remove these deposits without harming the teeth. First, the dental hygienist will use an ultrasonic device that emits vibrations to knock larger pieces of tartar loose. The ultrasonic device sprays a cooling mist of water while it works to wash away debris and keep the area at a comfortable temperature. Next, hand tools called scalers and curettes are used to manually remove smaller deposits and smooth the tooth surfaces. These tools are curved and shaped to match the curves of the teeth. Once all the tooth surfaces have been cleaned of tartar and plaque, the teeth are polished using a slow speed hand piece with a soft rubber cup that spins on the end. Prophylaxis paste which is a special gritty toothpaste-like material – is applied to the teeth to make them shiny and smooth. Your dental hygienist or dentist may also apply fluoride to the teeth to help strengthen the tooth enamel.
Dental exams are an important step in early detection and treatment of gum disease and tooth decay. For a first time visit, the dentist will perform a comprehensive dental examination that is very thorough. During a regular checkup, the dentist will conduct a less extensive exam that will include many of the steps performed during an extensive exam, such as:
Your dentist or dental hygienist will also likely provide you with a quick reminder on proper home care and brushing techniques.
Digital radiography is the latest form of x-ray imaging, which involves the use of digital x-ray sensors instead of traditional photographic film. Digital radiography helps dental professionals make the most accurate and efficient diagnosis, and quickly develop treatment plans. A small sensor is connected directly to a computer instead of a film packet. When taking x-rays, the sensor is moved from tooth to tooth. The x-rays are available immediately on the computer monitor, with no development step in between. Since the digital x-ray exposure is shorter than conventional x-rays, the amount of x-ray radiation is reduced by up to 90 percent.
Some advantages of digital x-rays: