What are dental cleanings?
Dental cleanings involve removing plaque (soft, sticky, bacteria infested film) and calculus (mineralized plaque) 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 build up over time, usually it is tooth coloured and can easily be mistaken as part of the teeth, but it can also present in a brown or black color.
If the calculus is allowed to accumulate on the teeth it will provide the right conditions for bacteria to thrive next to the gums which ultimately can lead to periodontitis. The purpose of the cleaning and polishing is to remove the bacteria and leave the surfaces of the teeth clean and smooth so that bacteria have difficulty adhering to them.
The professional cleaning of teeth is sometimes referred to as prophylaxis (or prophy for short). It’s a Greek word which means “to prevent beforehand” – in this case, it helps prevent gum disease. Teeth cleaning are generally recommended once every 6months, but in some periodontal cases more often.