What is it?
Plaque is a soft, sticky substance that builds up on your teeth. It is mostly made up of bacteria. The bacteria in plaque feed on sugar from food and drink, producing acids as a waste product. The acids attack the teeth by dissolving the mineral in the tooth surface. If this happens too often, tooth decay results.
And, if plaque is allowed to build up, the bacteria in it can cause gum disease, making your gums sore and infected.
Calculus (Also known as tartar or scale), formed by hardened plaque, helps plaque to gather and makes it harder to remove when you brush.
You can’t remove calculus just by brushing your teeth, but a hygienist can remove it using special instruments – This is known as scaling.
The hygienist can also polish your teeth. This removes stains from coffee, tea, cigarettes or red wine; and it makes it more difficult for plaque to stick to your teeth.
What happens during hygiene treatment?
Hygienists use two types of instruments for scaling:
- Hand scalars are metal scrapers that come in different sizes and shapes, to reach different parts of the teeth. This is why you will see the dentist or hygienist changing instruments quite often.
- Electric scalars use a tip that vibrates very fast in a stream of water. The water is removed from your mouth using a small suction device. A hand scalar is also used alongside an electric hand scalar, to check whether the teeth are completely clean.
For polishing your hygienist will use a rotating brush or rubber polisher with special paste.
Scaling cleans above and below the gum line. If you have gum disease, you may also need deeper scaling, around the roots of the teeth, this is called root planning. Your hygienist may give you a local anaesthetic for this.
You hygienist will also give you advice about the best way to clean your teeth and gums thoroughly at home.
What are the benefits hygiene treatment?
- Regular scaling and polishing helps keep your teeth and gums healthy by making it easier for you to keep your teeth clean at home. You should see and fell the difference.
- If your gums bleed when you brush, you may have early gum disease. Regular scaling helps to stop the disease getting worse; and it helps you eliminate the disease by thorough cleaning at home.
Bad breath is often caused by gum disease. Regular scaling and cleaning your teeth thoroughly at home can be a part of your personal dental hygiene treatment to prevent this.