Let’s face it. Most of us are afraid of the dentist, if even only a little bit. Terms like deep cleaning, scaling, and root planing literally make many of us cringe. However, dental hygiene is directly related to optimal health. Gum disease, an abscess or an infected tooth can and does affect the health and function of the human body. Deep cleaning addresses buildup of plaque and tartar on the teeth, which provide the environment in which bacteria grows and multiplies.
Deep cleaning of the teeth is achieved through processes known as scaling and root planing. A dental cleanse is a rather routine dental visit that involves the removal of plaque, also known as scaling, which removes plaque (a film covering the teeth that may be infested with bacteria) and hard calculus deposits known as tarter from the surface of the teeth.
A dental hygienist often uses a dental tools (picks, scalers and curettes), as well as ultrasonic instruments that vibrate and remove large pieces of tartar from the tooth surface. The ultrasonic device makes a whistling noise that grates on the nerves of many dental patients, but doesn’t hurt a bit. The tip of the ultrasonic instrument is rounded or curved, perfectly designed to remove tartar from the surface of the teeth and not dig into them. Root planing cleans between the teeth and below the gum line, often down to the roots.
The dental hygienist may clean one section of the mouth at a time; upper right or left quadrant, or lower right or left quadrant. Following the scaling and planing process, a polish is applied to the surface of the teeth. Cleaning each quadrant of the mouth may take between 15 minutes and 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the condition of the teeth.
In most cases, deep cleaning processes, scaling, cleaning or polishing do not cause discomfort. Minor twinges may be felt by individuals suffering from early stages of gum disease, and gums will sometimes bleed, but more often than not, a couple of Tylenol is all that is needed to address such issues.
In cases of moderate to severe gum disease or issues or if the individual is especially fearful of the dental chair, dental patients may be given oral numbing anesthetic, topical numbing gels, or even a small dose of nitrous oxide to help calm and relax the patient.
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