When you wake up in the morning or after having a meal, do you notice that your teeth feel as though they’re not smooth and have a slightly slippery substance on them? That’s called plaque, which in a matter of hours could harden into tartar also known as calculus.

Understanding Tartar

Tartar is your teeth’s No. 1 enemy! It deposits on teeth, below the gum line and roots of your teeth and house bacteria that over time may cause cavities, bad breath, tooth sensitivity, gum disease and tooth loss.

Regular brushing, flossing and cleaning in between teeth help remove plaque, but they are not 100% fail proof. There are hard-to-reach areas in our mouth that can’t be thoroughly cleaned and sometimes we just don’t brush or floss our teeth properly. Without our knowing it, tartar may be building up in these areas and slowly destroying the bone supporting our teeth.

Dealing with Tartar Through a Dental Clean Procedure

Tartar can only be removed professionally, so it’s recommended that you visit your oral health therapist between three months to 12 months a year for a thorough check and dental clean to ensure healthy teeth and gums.

woman smiling up at the dentist

Following a comprehensive dental probe, one of the following two types of teeth cleaning procedures will be recommended based on the severity of tartar build-up and severe gum disease.

1. Routine Dental Cleaning

Routine teeth cleaning involves removal of tartar from your teeth and gum line. This is something that your oral health therapist may perform on your regular visit to prevent gum disease. It usually takes less than half an hour depending on the amount of tartar and plaque build up on your teeth.

How it’s Done

This procedure is also known as prophylaxis, and involves teeth scaling, polishing and brushing. First your oral health therapist uses an electric scaling instrument known as an ultrasonic cleaner to loosen tartar. Then, using various manual scaling tools and curettes, the remaining tartar is scuffed off your teeth.

Scaling exposes rough patches on your teeth where tartar is removed. Polishing helps smoothen these to enhance the aesthetic appearance of your teeth. Finally, brushing with a special toothpaste completes the process.

2. Deep Cleaning Teeth

Dental checks may reveal signs of periodontal diseases such as gum inflammation called gingivitis or a more severe gum infection known as periodontitis. According to the most recent oral health survey, about one third of Australian older than 15 years have severe gum disease.

When and Why it’s Recommended

Signs of gingivitis include bleeding, swollen, red gums as well as chronic bad breath. If not treated it could progress to periodontitis, which is characterised by the presence of pus, receding gums and “pockets ” (spaces between the gums and teeth formed due to loss of bone structure supporting the teeth as a result of tartar build-up). If a periodontal probe finds that pockets are greater than 4 millimetres, your dentist will most likely prescribe deep dental cleaning to help reverse gingivitis and stop the progression of periodontitis.

How it’s Done

Earlier, we described how scaling works. In the case of deep dental cleaning, plaque and tartar are removed from the surface of the roots of your teeth with ultrasonic and hand scalers. This is followed by root planing which involves smoothing out rough spots to promote reattachment of the surrounding gums to your teeth.

It may take hours or even more than one session depending on the spread and severity of the condition. Numbing of the infected area may be required because the treatment goes deeper into the roots of your teeth.

Your dentist will then disinfect the area to complete the procedure and may ask you to come for a follow-up visit to ensure your teeth and gums are on their way back to good health.

After Teeth Cleaning Care

Following a teeth cleaning procedure you may feel some discomfort and tooth sensitivity, especially after the effect of the numbing agent wanes. This is normal, so don’t worry, as these symptoms will eventually go away.

Remember to regularly brush your teeth, floss and practice good oral hygiene daily. Over time, you will gradually notice the closing of pockets and you’ll enjoy healthier teeth and gums!

See Your Oral Health Therapist

No matter how well you practice good dental hygiene, there will always be areas in our mouth that only a dental professional can see, reach and treat. Regular visits to your oral health therapist will ensure serious tartar build-up is caught and treated early before it wreaks havoc on your dental and overall health. Contact us at Coburg Hill Oral Care on (03) 9041 5301 to book a visit with one of our highly qualified and experienced oral health therapists.