Professional Teeth Cleaning; How, When, and Why Blog

19 October 2016

Professional Teeth Cleaning

Returning for your routine cleanings may just be the most important thing you do in order to maintain your oral health, and to continue making decisions that will live a lifestyle that promotes a healthy and happy mouth. Continue reading for more information on professional teeth cleaning.

Why must I return for a professional cleaning?

Dentists and dental hygienists recommend returning, on average, every six months for a thorough, professional cleaning. This is to halt the growth of harmful bacteria in the mouth. When bacteria is allowed to reside in the mouth and on the teeth, a thin film-like layer forms on the teeth known as plaque. Plaque is usually removed with regular home care, consisting of thorough brushing and flossing.

In the case that there is improper home care, plaque hardens into tartar. Tartar is a hard concentration of bacteria that causes immense amounts of decay in the mouth; when it is able to escape underneath the gums, it eats away at the bone, and eventually, causes the looseness of teeth. This is a condition known as Periodontitis, which requires deeper cleanings. We’ll get to that momentarily.

When you return for your cleaning, your dental hygienist removes any plaque or tartar from your teeth that you may have missed. It is important to remember that once tartar develops, it can only be professionally removed, due to how hard it is. Your dental hygienist will thoroughly clean your teeth and remove any signs of tartar during your visit, and they will give you directions on how to further your home care.

In the case that you have been diagnosed with Periodontitis, it is crucial that you return every three months for a deep cleaning, known as a “scaling”. During this cleaning, your hygienist will not only thoroughly clean your teeth, they will place antibiotics underneath your gums in order to prevent the growth of bacteria. Scalings are crucial in the process of treating Periodontitis, which can never be reversed. Once diagnosed, a patient can only make efforts in order to prevent it from progressing.

The importance of proper oral care

Many people do not know that the health of your mouth is directly related to the rest of your body. In fact, patients with gum disease have been linked directly to heart disease and diabetes. It is extremely important to return for your regular cleanings to prevent the development of tartar.

In the case that Periodontitis is allowed to progress without regular cleanings to regulate the bacteria growth, teeth will become loose due to bone loss. Patients also experience extreme discomfort and bleeding in the gums, even when untouched. The antibiotics that are placed underneath the gums during a scaling cleaning are essential in preventing these unfortunate side effects

Even for patients that do not have gum disease, it is important to return every six months for a cleaning. Though you may think you reach all corners of your mouth while brushing, there are always spots that could use the trained eye of a dental hygienist.

Covid-19 and your care

We have now received clear guidance as to what dental procedures we can safely carry out and at what stages during the pandemic.

Below is a summary of the guidance as we understand it, although this may modify over the next few days as some small inconsistencies are clarified.

The government has set five different risk levels for the pandemic 1-5 (low to high), although this changes on a daily basis.

The treatments that we can carry out safely in dental practice will change with the risk level.

Treatments are significantly limited at level 4.

During the next few weeks, we will attempt to contact each patient that has contacted us with a significant dental problem during lockdown, and we hope to book an assessment appointment for those patients in the week commencing 8th June.

Practice doors will be locked at level 3, 4 and 5. Entry to the practice will be limited to pre-booked appointments.

There will be very clear criteria provided in due course as what is required before arriving at the practice, and what the procedure will be upon arrival. We will endeavour to ensure that each person knows exactly what to expect at their visit as this will be quite different to what you have been used to.

The appointment diary will be structured to take into consideration those patients who are shielding, may have underlying medical issues and so on.

The first week is expected to be a slow start as we ensure that the new protocols are working effectively for everyone’s safety. These protocols will be audited and modified until required.

At level 4 we should be able to carry out the following:

Dental assessment (initially restricted to patients who have current urgent need, or did and contacted us during lockdown).

X rays but only for patients who tolerate them well.

TEMPORARY re cementation of crowns. (We cannot dry the tooth effectively enough to cement a crown permanently with the restrictions we face).

Fabrication or repair of removable dentures.

Simple dental extractions. If a tooth breaks, it is probable we will have to leave the roots in place until we are at a lower level of risk. Naturally, we will assess the risk very carefully prior to treatment.

Tightening of loose dental implants if possible, without using a high-speed handpiece (drill).

Temporary fillings.

Draining of a swelling/abscess.

Provision of antibiotics.

Trimming of sharp orthodontic wires (not reliable re cementation of loose brackets, or replacement of missing brackets).

Treatment is only to be offered after careful assessment.

Cosmetic orthodontics

Cheshire Dental Centre provide many of these treatments. We may now be able to progress some of our Quick Straight Teeth cases. We will be in touch with each patient shortly, but please allow us to contact you; we hope that it is understandable that we will be prioritising patients with urgent dental need.

The PPE (personal protective equipment) requirements for the above are not too onerous, and we will not look too different to normal. As you are aware, the cross-infection control at Cheshire Dental Centre has always been exemplary and one of our top priorities.

Although we have been organised with the new PPE guidelines well in advance there may be the occasional time where we are awaiting stock. All practices are attempting to source the necessary PPE we need to keep you and us safe, but supplies are scarce and consequently very expensive.