Cleanings and Prevention

A dental cleaning is a professional cleaning you receive from a dentist or dental hygienist. Cleanings should be performed every six months to prevent excessive plaque buildup. In between regular visits to the dentist, there are simple steps that each of us can take to greatly decrease the risk of developing tooth decay, gum disease and other dental problems.

The dental examination is a detailed exam that involves the dentist reading your radiographs. The dentist then examines the soft tissues including the cheeks, palate, throat, tongue, floor of the mouth, and your lips. The purpose of the soft tissue examination is to detect pathological changes in the tissues that line the inside of the mouth. While the vast majority of pathology in the mouth is benign, precancerous and cancerous changes in the oral tissues may be found. It is best if detected at an early stage when it can be successfully treated. Tobacco and heavy alcohol use are major risk factors for oral cancer, and this is one of the reasons why we take a thorough comprehensive medical history.

The teeth are evaluated for cracks, decay, malformations and malocclusions. The dentist will look for problems such as food traps and bleeding gums, also ask about issues that concern the patient: previous dental experiences, problems with taste and breath, and issues with appearance and comfort.

As part of good practice we always do a Oral Health and Oral Cancer Screen which involves assessment of the risk factors as well as a thorough examination of the soft and hard tissues. The dentist looks for any problems that a patient may have including oral cancer, cysts, benign tumors, or oral signs of cancer in other parts of the body.

We use an intraoral fibre optic video camera wand to look inside your mouth. This technology makes it possible to see intraoral areas and features in a highly magnified and illuminated way not normally possible otherwise. This video scan is visible on a TV screen as we use the camera, so the patient can see the full color, live, real-time images of their teeth and other intraoral tissues.

In adults a periodontal probe is usually inserted between the gums and teeth to detect abnormally large crevices, and periodontal defects.

You can expect to be treated with great care, professional skill and focused attention during your visits. We receive compliments from our patients about our easy going manner, and about our habit of explaining each procedure. We have found that these methods greatly reduce fear and anxiety, and ease the patient through the procedures.

Dental Cleanings involve removing plaque (soft, sticky, bacteria infested film) and tartar (calculus) deposits that have built up on the teeth over time.

Your teeth are continually bathed in saliva which contains calcium and other substances which help strengthen and protect the teeth. While this is a good thing, it also means that we tend to get a build-up of calcium deposits on the teeth. This chalky substance will eventually build up over time, like lime scale in a pipe or kettle. Usually it is tooth colored and can easily be mistaken as part of the teeth, but it also can vary from brown to black in color. If the scale, or calculus (tartar) is allowed to accumulate on the teeth it will unfortunately provide the right conditions for bacteria to thrive next to the gums.

The purpose of the cleaning and polishing is basically to leave the surfaces of the teeth clean and smooth so that bacteria are unable to stick to them and you have a better chance of keeping the teeth clean during your regular home care.

The professional cleaning of teeth or prophylaxis (or prophy for short) is performed by a licensed Dental Hygienist It’s a Greek word which means “to prevent beforehand” – in this case, it helps prevent gum disease.