How Does A Dentist Remove Plaque

What Is Plaque?

If you haven’t brushed your teeth in a while, you may feel a fuzzy, sticky buildup on your teeth—this is plaque. It is made up of a combination of saliva, tiny food particles, and bacteria. The bacteria can not only cause plaque to multiply but are also the main cause of a number of oral health conditions such as tooth decay, cavities, gum disease, and gingivitis or bad breath.

How Can You Remove Plaque?

A good oral hygiene routine should be sufficient to remove most of the plaque that forms on the teeth on a daily basis. Brushing your teeth with toothpaste at least twice a day will remove plaque from the surface of the teeth, gums, and tongue. Flossing regularly removes this harmful substance from between the teeth and along the gumline. Mouthwash can remove any remaining plaque and food particles in the mouth.

Why Is It Important To Remove Plaque?

Even the best oral hygiene routine cannot ensure that all the plaque in the mouth is entirely removed every time that you brush. This can result in plaque hardening and forming what is called tartar. Unlike plaque, which is white in color, tartar has a yellow coloration and cannot be removed with regular brushing and flossing. Normally, tartar occurs in hard to reach places that are difficult or even impossible to clean properly with a toothbrush.

How Do You Know You Have Plaque?

After brushing, your teeth should feel smooth and clean. However, plaque may still be hiding in some places. You can purchase tablets that you can chew from your local pharmacy that will stain the remaining plaque pink and show you exactly where the plaque is in your mouth even after brushing, flossing, and using a mouthwash.

How Does A Dentist Remove Plaque?

A regular visit to your dentist is absolutely crucial to removing unseen plaque as well as tartar. It is recommended to visit the dentist at least once a year in order to have your teeth professionally cleaned. Alternatively, a visit to a dental hygienist will also provide you with professional teeth cleaning. Your dentist may even refer you to an oral hygienist to have your teeth cleaned expertly instead of performing the procedure themselves.

You can expect the following steps when having your teeth cleaned by a dentist:

Step 1 - Paste

The dentist will place a thick paste on your teeth. This paste (called Prophy Paste) is similar to toothpaste but is much coarser and thicker. The paste will be left on your teeth for a few minutes to clean the teeth and remove stains that regular toothpaste cannot remove. You will then be given water to swirl in your mouth and spit out the paste.

Step 2 - Flossing

Your dentist may floss between your teeth and along the gumline to remove any plaque that has become trapped there.

Step 3 - Scaling

The dentist may use a range of different tools to scrape your teeth. This is normally to remove plaque that has hardened into tartar and cannot be removed through regular brushing or flossing. If your teeth and gums are healthy, this procedure should be entirely painless. The scraping process is called scaling. However, if you do have cavities or gum disease, the teeth may be sensitive to scraping and the process can be uncomfortable.

It is important to inform your dentist if you are experiencing pain or discomfort while having your teeth cleaned. This will give your dentist the opportunity to diagnose a problem early on and provide treatment. For example, they may advise an immediate filling or schedule a later appointment when another dental procedure can be performed.

If you are experiencing extreme discomfort, your dentist may apply a numbing gel that can help reduce the pain while scraping teeth. In some cases, the dentist may inject a local anesthetic to entirely numb the area while cleaning the teeth. Cleaning the teeth professionally is very important, and if it is deemed necessary to use anesthetic for the procedure to be performed properly, this will be done.

Once again, a numbing gel will be used at the injection site to make injecting the local anesthetic more comfortable. However, you should experience no discomfort when having your teeth cleaned by an expert dentist or oral hygienist.

Step 4 - Polishing

Your teeth may feel rough and uneven after the above 3 steps have been completed. Your dentist may apply a polishing tool to smooth this rough enamel. Polishing is not only important to make your teeth feel better but also to prevent plaque and tartar buildup in the future. It is far more difficult for plaque to attach to a smooth surface than a rough surface.

Step 5 - Fluoride Treatment

The dentist will apply a fluoride treatment to your teeth. Fluoride strengthens the enamel of the teeth to prevent tooth decay and cavities. The treatment is applied in a paste and left for a few minutes to work.

Step 6 - Rinse

The final step in the process is to rinse the mouth with an antibacterial mouthwash and water. This gets rid of any remaining grittiness from the pastes that were applied as well as bits of tartar and plaque that were removed during the scaling process. You may need to rinse your teeth more than once. The mouthwash that dentists use is antibacterial and is much stronger and more effective than the type you buy off the shelf for regular use. This type of mouthwash should not be used regularly as it can weaken the enamel of the teeth.