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Dental Cleaning: Do-It-Yourself, Then Go to the Dentist!

Jul 23, 2008
When talking about oral hygiene, there are several things we all know to do to avoid going to the dentist. We brush twice a day for five minutes, we floss once a day, and we avoid eating sticky, sugary foods. In short, we do the preventive medicine required for minimal oral health.

Now that you're listening, a qualified dentist or hygienist should do your dental cleaning, preferably every six months. Professional dental cleaning can be broken down into three main subcategories, namely: scaling, root planning, and polishing.

Scaling is simply the removal of plaque, and traditionally it involved scraping the excess tartar from the teeth using dental instruments, and is done manually. However, recent technological advancements have increased the scope of scaling.

Routine dental cleanings are your first line of defense against oral cancers, gum disease, ulceration, and easily avoidable oral health problems such as bad breath (halitosis), gingivitis, tartar (calculus) buildup, and tooth decay. While brushing and flossing alone can remove as much as 70% of the plaque on your teeth, the other 30% lurks in areas that are harder to reach, and professional cleanings are the most sensible preventive medicine.

The American Dental Association (ADA) used to recommend that a child get their first dental cleaning at the age of three. But the recent wave of cavities in children entering kindergarten has forced the ADA to redefine their guidelines, and now most dentists recommend an initial visit to the dentist shortly after the eruption of the first teeth, which takes place during the first year.

A professional dental cleaning usually comes in three garden varieties: scaling, root planning, and polishing. Scaling is simply the removal of plaque, and traditionally it involved scraping the excess tartar from the teeth using dental instruments, and was done manually. However, recent technological advancements have increased the scope of scaling, and scaling can now be done electrically, ultrasonically, or with lasers.

Root planning is basically gum work, the cleaning of pockets to prevent further development of periodontal or gum disease. When gums are inflamed, the pockets tend to become deeper, making it much easier for them to trap plaque deposits, further worsening the condition of the gums. Root planning can sometimes be a painful process requiring local anesthesia.

Polishing is the final step of a good dental cleaning. Prophy jet polishing works but spraying powered water mixed with baking soda on the teeth. The powered water helps remove any excess plaque, and the baking soda neutralizes acidic conditions in the mouth while simultaneously fighting stains. Your dentist is equipped with the knowledge and the technology to optimize your own personal dental hygiene program for maximum success. So, please, every six months, get thee to a dentist!
About the Author
Ornella actually knows what she is talking about. You can see more about bleeding gums and dental hygiene here.
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