7 Peaks Dental routinely offers teeth cleaning to its patients. We welcome you to read about the different practices applied for each unique patient.
A prophylaxis, or dental cleaning, is the removal of dental plaque and tartar from the teeth. Dental cleanings are necessary to prevent cavities, gingivitis and gum disease. If left untreated, severe gum disease can result in tooth loss and generalized bone loss in the jaw. Cleaning and polishing of the teeth leaves the surfaces of the teeth clean and smooth so that bacteria are unable to stick to them.
The dental hygienist or dentist uses specialized instruments to gently remove these deposits without harming the teeth. First, the dental hygienist uses an ultrasonic device that emits vibrations to shake loose any larger pieces of tartar. The ultrasonic device sprays a cooling mist of water while it works to wash away debris and keep the area at a comfortable temperature. Next, the hygienist usesscalers (curved tools that match the natural shape of the teeth) to manually remove smaller deposits and smooth the tooth surfaces. Once all surfaces of the teeth have been cleaned of tartar and plaque, the teeth are polished using a slow-speed hand piece with a soft rubber cup that spins on the end. Prophylaxis paste, which is a special gritty, toothpaste-like material, is applied to the teeth to make them shiny and smooth. Your dental hygienist or dentist may also apply fluoride to the teeth to help strengthen the tooth enamel.
Scaling & Root Planing
Some cases of acute periodontal (gum) disease that do not respond to more conventional treatment and self-care such as flossing may require a special kind of cleaning called scaling and root planing. The procedure begins with administration of a local anesthetic to reduce any discomfort. Then, a scaler or an ultrasonic device is used to remove plaque and tartar beneath the gum line. The root surfaces on the tooth are then planed and smoothed. If effective, scaling and root planing helps the gums reattach themselves to the tooth structure. Additional or alternative procedures may be necessary if unhealthy periodontal pockets persist after scaling and root planing.
Periodic exams are vital in the maintenance of your oral health as they are used to assess the health of your gums and teeth. During the exam the dentist can evaluate and diagnose gum diseases including *gingivitis and **periodontitis. These exams also allow the doctor to provide treatment suggestions, screen for signs of oral cancer, and visually examine receding gums, exposed roots, tooth grinding and other problems. Regular dental exams are important as they can reveal evidence of problems in their early stages.
During your periodic examination, Dr. Baraff will check:
For any lumps or abnormal areas in the mouth
Whether any of your teeth are missing or loose
The color, texture, size and shape of your gums
Whether you have fillings, crowns, bridges, dentures or implants
How much plaque is on your teeth
The depth of the space between your teeth and gums (also known as periodontal charting)
Periodic exams are given to each new patient and are then repeated annually as part of the all-important, regular appointments with the dental hygienist.
*Gingivitis is the first stage of periodontal disease that causes inflammation of the gums. Dental x-rays can determine if the inflammation has spread to the supporting structures on the teeth so that proper treatment can be determined to correct the problem.
**Periodontitis occurs when gingivitis goes untreated, which makes periodontal exams vital to preventing and controlling gum diseases.