Basic information about dental hygiene treatments
dental pLaque and tartar
The process of dental treatment, whether simple or complex, usually starts with a dental hygiene procedure that eliminates microorganisms from the oral cavity and thus increases the effectiveness of treatment.
Dental hygiene treatment is a procedure involving the removal of soft and hard deposits, i.e., bacterial plaque, food debris, tartar and unsightly deposits in which bacteria grow. Hard deposits on the surface of the teeth cannot be removed by brushing or other home methods, therefore professional oral hygiene is recommended at least once every 6 months. It is important that dental hygiene treatments (scaling, sandblasting, polishing, fluoride application and oral hygiene education sessions) are performed only by qualified dental hygienists.
Tartar or dental calculus
There are many reasons for the formation of tartar: genetic conditions, cigarette smoking, malocclusion, badly made fillings, or even a diet rich in carbohydrates and dairy products, which thicken antimicrobial saliva.
Shortly after brushing your teeth, a protein membrane begins to form, on which plaque builds up from leftover food, bacteria and exfoliated skin. If the plaque is not removed by brushing in time, it gradually mineralises, turning into tartar, which is visible in the form of dark rims at the edge of the gums. Untreated, it grows under the gum line causing inflammation, hypersensitivity, bleeding during eating and brushing, as well as exposure of dental necks. As a result, periodontal disease develops, formerly known as periodontosis, which in turn may lead to premature loss of teeth.
The process of tartar depositing can be slowed down by proper hygiene – in addition to brushing, also regular hygiene of the interdental spaces.
EXAMPLE OF CORRECT ORAL HYGIENe treatment
Stages of the hygiene procedure
Scaling is a procedure to remove hard deposits – tartar, also known as calculus. Tartar is the result of mineralisation and hardening of dental plaque. Scaling is usually a painless procedure. Pain can occur, but only when the tissues around the tooth are heavily inflamed – in this situation local anaesthesia is administered.
Supragingival scaling is used to remove superficial tartar, aiming to clean tartar from the crowns of the teeth. This treatment is carried out using ultrasonic devices, called scalers. Contraindications for performing the procedure using ultrasonic devices are: a pacemaker, posttraumatic retinal detachment and pregnancy. In such cases, scaling is carried out using the traditional method, i.e., using a hand scaler.
Subgingival calculus is removed by subgingival scaling, so-called deep scaling. This involves the manual removal of subgingival calculus from the surface of the roots of teeth using specialised tools (curettes), followed by polishing. This procedure is performed only by a doctor.
Sandblasting involves the mechanical removal of deposits and unsightly discolourations caused by smoking cigarettes or consuming colouring food products such as coffee or tea. For this purpose, a special sand blasting machine is used which supplies a stream of pressurised water mixed with dental sand. Sand blasting is performed in order to improve the aesthetics of a smile, eliminate harmful bacteria from the oral cavity and to enable a thorough assessment of carious lesions on the tangential surfaces of the teeth.
Contraindications to sandblasting:
- ulcers and wounds in the mouth
- impaired lung function (asthma, pneumoconiosis)
- contact lenses
- allergy to soda, or other ingredient used during the procedure
In the abovementioned cases, the sandblaster is abandoned in favour of abrasive pastes, which also make it possible to clean plaque from the tooth surface.
Polishing – this is an inseparable part of the dental hygiene process. It is performed using polishing pastes that smooth the surface of the tooth. It protects against the quick accumulation of calculus and sediment and ensures a pleasant feeling of smoothness of teeth.
Applying topical fluoride
Applying topical fluoride – a preventive treatment aimed at strengthening tooth enamel and increasing its resistance to decay. Fluoride released from the preparations becomes embedded in the tooth enamel, strengthening its structure and making it more resistant to acids and bacteria causing tooth decay. In addition, fluoride remineralises minor enamel defects and reduces tooth hypersensitivity. Fluoridation treatment consists in coating previously cleaned teeth with a foam, gel or varnish with a high fluorine content.
Oral hygiene education
Oral hygiene education – includes presentations of tooth brushing methods individually tailored to the patient’s age and medical needs. The instruction also includes the selection of a suitable brush, toothpaste and additional instruments for cleaning interdental spaces, (dental floss or interdental brushes) and the tongue.
According to the WHO guidelines observed at the Cichoń Dental Centre, it is recommended to perform dental hygiene treatment at least every 6 months, but this depends largely on individual needs (more often in people exposed to periodontal disease or patients with orthodontic appliances whose hygiene is made more complicated).
Dental hygiene procedure is postponed in patients with labile cold sores, as the risk of spreading the infection is increased. This treatment should be performed after a period of complete healing.
Frequently asked questions
What does a full oral cavity hygiene treatment involve?
The first stage of the procedure is scaling or calculus/tartar removal using ultrasound. The next stage is sandblasting to remove sediment and discolouration from the facial, occlusal surfaces and interdental spaces. The final, indispensable, stage is polishing with special polishing pastes. Effective polishing reduces the size of plaque deposits and makes them less likely to remain on teeth.
Is dental hygiene treatment painful?
No. The treatment should not cause pain, although it depends on the individual sensitivity of the patient. In cases of hypersensitivity, it is possible to ask for the procedure under anaesthesia.
How often should dental hygiene treatment be performed?
Oral cavity hygiene treatment should be performed at least every 6 months, and for orthodontic patients once every 3 months. The frequency of dental hygiene treatment is an individual matter. The hygienist will always inform you how often it should take place, in order to avoid gum recession or other diseases related to the periodontium.
How do I check if I clean my teeth thoroughly?
One method is using a fuchsin tablet.
After completing dental hygiene treatment at the Cichoń Dental Centre, the patient receives a tablet to check the correctness of brushing and flossing. After thoroughly chewing and spreading the tablet on the tongue, the old dental plaque will be stained an appropriate colour, informing you of any insufficient tooth brushing.
How does one take care for the hygiene of prosthetic restorations – crowns, bridges and works on implants?
It is recommended to perform oral cavity hygiene at least once every six months. Professional oral hygiene is performed with the help of special tips that allow you to safely and thoroughly clean the area of prosthetic elements. In addition, low granularity and mildly abrasive sand is used, which protects the crowns from damage.
Is it necessary to conduct an oral cavity hygiene treatment before whitening?
Definitely yes. Performing full oral hygiene treatment helps guarantee the success of whitening, because teeth with impurities on them will not whiten.