A Guide To Understanding Your Dental Cleaning

Most adults know they need to visit their dentist and hygienist every six months and that the hygienist is the one that cleans your teeth. You may be tempted to skip a cleaning now and again, either to save time or money. In many cases, the hygiene appointment is the most crucial aspect to your ongoing dental health. This guide can help you better understand the role of a hygienist and what you can do to keep your teeth healthy.

What a Hygienist Really Does

A hygienist is a dental health professional that actually specializes in gum and teeth health, not just simple cleanings. They primarily do this by checking for gum diseases, including gingivitis, periodontal disease and oral cancer, and performing in-depth cleanings to prevent both these diseases and tooth decay. While many people keep up on their cleanings because they don't like the look of coffee- or tea-stained teeth, the cleanings actually serve a much deeper purpose for your overall health.

Why Cleanings Are Really Needed

Stain-free teeth are just a fringe benefit of the cleaning, not the main attraction. Plaque builds up on teeth along the gum line, where it can be difficult to remove when you brush. This plaque can then get slightly below the gum line, where it then begins to harden into tartar, also called calculus. This allows bacteria to get beneath the gum line, where it can lead to gum infections or cavities. It can also lead to receding gums and tooth loss, also known as gingivitis and periodontal disease. Regular cleanings remove the plaque and beginning stages of calculus so the gums remain sealed to the teeth instead of developing pockets that can hold bacteria. The result is healthier gums and teeth.

How Cleanings Are Performed

Your hygienist uses several tools to perform a cleaning. First, they measure the amount of calculus and plaque buildup on your teeth and under the gums. Then, they usually perform a basic oral cancer and infection screening of the interior of your mouth.

Next, the cleaning commences. Hygienists use a variety of tools, including handheld scrapers and ultrasonic scaler tools. The ultrasonic tool is especially useful for heavy calculus build-up since its high frequency vibrations help break the build-up loose. After the cleaning, your hygienist will then polish your teeth, which removes the stains and any remaining plaque.

What You Can Do to Help

You likely know that you should take an active role in your dental health by brushing and flossing, but you may not know the best way to handle these tasks. This is because every mouth is different. If you have slightly crooked teeth or an area where plaque builds up quickly, you should ask your hygienist how best to brush and floss these areas to slow the build-up of plaque. Your hygienist can show you tricks for angling floss or a toothbrush to get to the difficult area, or they may recommend a rubber-tipped gum stimulator. These tools are rubbed along the gum line where they can help strengthen gums to minimize bleeding while also removing plaque from difficult areas.

For more information on dental cleanings, contact a practice like Legacy Dental Arts.