Dental cleaning is an important part of oral health. Professional dental cleaning, such as dental scaling or planing, can remove plaque and tartar from the teeth and roots, and can be used as treatment for gum disease and gingivitis.
Professional dental cleaning may involve two specific procedures: scaling, and root planing. Scaling is used to remove plaque and tartar from the surface of the teeth, while root planing is a procedure that removes plaque from the surface of the roots. Either or both of these procedures can be performed as routine dental cleaning to remove the initial stages of calculus (the hardened form of plaque), or they may be used as preparatory procedures before surgery to treat gingivitis or gum disease.
Dental scaling and planing can be a painful procedure, and may require the use of local anesthetic. The dental instruments used for scaling may be either manual or ultrasonic. Manual instruments include curettes and scalers, and are sharp instruments that come in different shapes for use in different areas of the mouth. They are used to scrape hardened plaque off the surface of the teeth. Ultrasonic instruments include vibrating instruments and water-jet instruments; the vibrating instruments have a blunt end which uses friction from vibrations to remove the hardened plaque, while the water-powered instruments use a powerful stream of water to wash plaque from the teeth. Generally, a dentist will use the ultrasonic instruments to remove as much plaque as possible, and then use the manual instruments to go more deeply toward the gums and to scrape off any remaining plaque.
These dental cleaning procedures can be very effective in removing bacteria and plaque growth from the teeth; however, in severe cases, the cleaning may have to be very intensive and may be quite painful – such as in cases of gum disease or gingivitis. In such cases, the dentist will usually recommend an antiseptic mouthwash in place of brushing while the gums heal, combined with the use of over-the-counter pain relievers. In severe cases, the gums may bleed, and it may take up to a week for the gums to recover and for the pain and bleeding to stop.
Though these procedures can be unpleasant for the patient, they are a very effective way to remove the plaque from the teeth, treat gum disease, and improve the overall health of the mouth. Dental cleaning is an important aspect of oral health, whether as a treatment for gum disease, or as a preventative measure.
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