It is important to receive dental hygiene treatment regularly. However, many patients do wonder what is done during the appointment and why it is important. At a dental hygiene appointment, you usually will receive scaling and/or prophylaxis (polishing). Scaling and polishing are carried out to remove dental plaque, calculus (tartar) and external stains.
You may ask what is plaque and tartar? Plaque is a biofilm that can form inside your mouth if you have not been cleaning your mouth adequately. Overtime plaque can harden up and form tartar. Plaque and tartar can cause oral health damage in multiple ways.
Plaque may cause cavities if it is not dealt with. A tooth with a cavity will necessitate a restoration which can range from a simple filling to crowning (capping) of the tooth. A deep cavity will usually lead to pulp (nerve) exposure and the tooth may require root canal therapy and/or extraction.
Tartar can cause gingivitis (gum disease) or periodontitis (gum and bone disease). Gum disease can manifest itself as swollen/bleeding gum, painful gum and bad breath. Gum disease can lead to periodontitis if left long enough. This involves damage to the gums and the bones leading to gum recession and bone loss. Gums and bones are vital supporting structures of your teeth. Therefore, periodontitis can cause loose teeth. Loose teeth may require gum treatments and/or extractions. In severe cases, full mouth extractions are usually required.
There are also other ways that plaque and tartar can cause harm to your body, such as causing infections. Therefore, it is important to keep plaque and tartar down to the minimum level.
Scaling involves usage of sonic instruments or ultrasonic instruments that oscillate, vibrate and knock the plaque, tartar and/or external stains from your teeth. Sometimes manual hand instruments may be used in adjunct with sonic or ultrasonic scalers. Polishing involves a rotary instrument than can remove plaque and some external stains.
In this day and age it is common for patients with poor oral health to receive social stigma. This can be from tooth loss, swollen gums, bad breath and/or unsightly stains. Regular hygiene appointments can help minimise plaque, tartar and stains which can lead to prevention of the aforementioned dental issues.
Your dentist can let you know how many hygiene appointments per year you may require as this can vary from person to person. Be sure to regularly visit the dentist for regular hygiene appointments and examinations. Prevention will always be better than intervention.