Teeth cleanings are an essential part of having a healthy body & mind, and not just for clean teeth. But for such a routine visit, there’s lots that people don’t know about. Here’s what you should know and what you should expect for your next teeth cleaning session.
What is Teeth Cleaning?
Dental cleanings involve removing plaque (soft, sticky, bacteria infested film) and tartar (calculus) deposits that have built up on the teeth over time. These include stains on the enamel. They can range from white streaks to yellow tints or brown spots and pits. If the enamel has worn away, and dentin is showing through, you may notice a yellow tint in the dentin.
Why do you need Teeth Cleaning?
Our teeth are continually covered 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 are prone to build-up of calcium deposits on the teeth. This chalky substance will eventually settle over time, like limescale in a pipe or kettle. Typically, it is tooth coloured and can easily be mistaken as part of the teeth, but it also can vary from brown to black in colour.
If the scale, or tartarcan accumulate on the teeth it will unfortunately create conditions for bacteria to thrive next to the gums. The purpose of the cleaning and polishing is basically to leave the surfaces of the teeth clean and smooth so that bacteria are unable to stick to them and you have a better chance of keeping the teeth clean during your regular home care.
When do you need Teeth Cleaning?
Tooth discoloration is a cosmetic problem. Visit a dentist if you’re unhappy with how your teeth look. Any change in a child’s normal tooth colour should be evaluated by a dentist.
No special tests are needed. A dentist or other dental professional can diagnose tooth discoloration by looking at the teeth.
What to expect at the appointment?
Your hygienist should explain what work is being done, why it’s being done, and why your teeth may be sensitive or why your gums are bleeding.
You can ask for a mirror or an intra-oral camera (a more hi-tech version of the mirror) which will allow you to watch your hygienist working and understand what’s being done to your teeth. You can see your hygienist scraping tartar from your back molars so you can be following up with proper brushing and flossing at home.
Your dentist or hygienist should give you an updated primer on proper brushing and flossing technique. Follow through after a teeth cleaning is everything, so use this opportunity to get a full demo of what you should be doing at home to keep your mouth disease-free and healthy.
Post – Cleaning care
Brushing your teeth after every meal will help to prevent some stains. Dentists recommend that you rinse your mouth with water after having wine, coffee or other drinks or foods that can stain your teeth. Regular cleanings by a dental hygienist also will help to remove surface stains.
Intrinsic stains that are caused by damage to a nerve or blood vessel in a tooth sometimes can be prevented. You may need to have root canal treatment to remove the inner part of the tooth (the pulp) before it has a chance to decay and darken. However, teeth that have root canal treatment may darken anyway. To prevent intrinsic stains in children, avoid too much early exposure to fluorides. Once the enamel is formed, fluoride will not discolour teeth.
Is it going to be painful?
Most people find that cleanings are painless, and find the sensations described above – tickling vibrations, the cooling mist of water, and the feeling of pressure during “scraping” – do not cause discomfort. A lot of people even report that they enjoy cleanings and the lovely smooth feel of their teeth afterwards! There may be odd zingy sensations, but many people don’t mind as they only last a nanosecond.
Be sure to let your dentist/hygienist know if you find things are getting too uncomfortable for your liking. They can recommend various options to make the cleaning more enjoyable.
What is the treatment process?
Discoloration often can be removed by applying a bleaching agent to the enamel of the teeth. One technique is called “power bleaching.” With this method, the dentist applies a light-activated bleaching gel. It causes the teeth to get significantly whiter in about 30 to 45 minutes. Several follow-up treatments may be needed, or take-home bleaching trays may be provided.
It’s also possible to remove discoloration at home. You will use a bleaching gel and a mouth guard given to you by your dentist. The bleaching gels designed for use at home aren’t as strong as those applied by your dentist thus making the process longer.
You also can buy whitening products over the counter. They contain a weaker bleach than the products you can get from your dentist. The whitening agent is applied as a gel placed in a mouthpiece or as a strip that sticks to your teeth. Over-the-counter mouthpieces fit less securely than the kind you get from your dentist.Whitening toothpastes may remove minor stains. They do not actually change the overall colour of your teeth.
If your tooth has darkened after a root canal, bleaching the enamel won’t help. Your dentist can apply a bleaching material to the inside of the tooth, or you may consider a crown or veneer.
Bleaching will not lighten some stains, such as tetracycline stains. In this case, your dentist may recommend covering the discoloured areas. This also may be useful when the tooth is chipped or badly damaged.
A tooth can be covered with a color-matched composite bonding material. Another option is to get veneers. These are thin ceramic shells that cover the outer surfaces of the teeth.
What is the approximate cost for a teeth cleaning?
Teeth cleaning starts at INR 525/- per session.
The prognosis is very good for extrinsic stains. Intrinsic stains may be more difficult or take longer to remove.