A dental cleaning is a procedure done by hygienists to get into hard to reach areas of the gums and teeth in order to remove bacteria and food debris. Dental cleanings should be scheduled at least once per year, so that patients can have plaque and tartar scraped off of their teeth. Plaque is a hard substance that adheres to the surface of a tooth. Too much plaque and tartar can cause gum disease and problems with teeth. A hygienist has special tools that can remove this plaque and tartar so that teeth are fresh and clean again. Because plaque and tartar buildup happen on a daily basis, patients should still brush and floss regularly.
During a dental cleaning the hygienist will get inside the hard to reach areas and clean out the spaces in between the gums and teeth. If the patient is suffering from gum disease or early gum disease, a deep cleaning, periodontal scaling or root planing may be administered. In this procedure, the hygienist gets into the flaps of gum under the tooth and into the pockets where bacteria can hide. A patient with pockets deeper than 4 mm is usually recommended to have a root planing or scaling. Patients with periodontal disease may need to have more than one cleaning per year.