National Oral Health Month – Dental Cleanings and Flossing

DENTAL CLEANING

Dental cleaning is subsection oral hygiene and involves the removal of dental plaque from teeth with the intention of preventing cavities (dental caries), gingivitis, and periodontal disease. People routinely clean their own teeth by brushing and interdental cleaning, but dental hygienists can remove hardened deposits (tartar) that cannot be removed by routine cleaning. Those with dentures and natural teeth may supplement their cleaning with a denture cleaner.

When cleaning, the dentist, periodontist, or dental hygienist removes the plaque through a deep-cleaning method called scaling and root planning. Scaling means scraping off the tartar from above and below the gum line. Root planning gets rid of rough spots on the tooth root where the germs gather, and helps remove bacteria that contribute to disease. In some cases a laser may be used to remove plaque and tartar. This procedure can result in less bleeding, swelling, and discomfort compared to traditional deep cleaning methods.

How often should I have a cleaning done?

For most people, getting a dental cleaning twice a year is adequate. Your dentist may tell you that you can come in less frequently. On the other hand, if you are a smoker, have diabetes, have a weakened immune system, are prone to getting cavities, or currently have gum disease, your dentist may ask you to come in more frequently. 

Unlike your toothbrush, your dentist’s tools can remove tartar — hardened plaque — from above and just below the gum line. Removing tartar is an important step in keeping your teeth and gums healthy.

FLOSSING

Flossing removes plaque and bacteria that you cannot reach with your toothbrush. If you don’t floss, you are missing more than one-third of your tooth surface. Plaque is the main cause of gum disease. It is an invisible bacterial film that develops on your teeth every day.

Within 24 to 36 hours, plaque hardens into tartar (also called calculus), which can only be removed by professional cleaning. Floss at least once a day, and plaque never gets the chance to harden into tartar. Getting into the habit of daily flossing is easier when you floss while doing something else like watching TV or listening to music, for example.

 

How to floss your teeth

Step 1 
Take a length of floss equal to the distance from your hand to your shoulder.

Wrap it around your index and middle fingers, leaving about two inches between your hands.

 

STEP 2

Slide the floss between your teeth and wrap it into a “C” shape around the base of the tooth and gently under the gum line. Wipe the tooth from base to tip two or three times.

 

STEP 3

Be sure to floss both sides of every tooth. Don’t forget the backs of your last molars. Go to a new section of the floss as it wears and picks up particles.

STEP 4

Brush your teeth after you floss – it is a more effective method of preventing tooth decay and gum disease.

Flossing Problems and Solutions

Gums sometimes bleed when you first begin to floss. Bleeding usually stops after a few days. If bleeding does not stop, see your dentist. Floss can shred if you snag it on an old filling or on the ragged edge of a tooth.

Try another type of floss or dental tape. Ask your dentist or dental hygienist for advice. If your floss still shreds, see your dentist.

At Corne Smith Dentistry Newlands Cape Town, our team of dentists and oral hygienists are standing ready to get your professional dental cleaning done, we also have a wide range of dental floss, toothpaste and brushes to make your at home dental routine that much easier.

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