Do you feel like this before your dental appointment? In this post, we explain what goes on during a cleaning visit to the dentist.
Like we mentioned previously, our main goal when brushing our teeth is to get rid of the plaque around our teeth. However, lets face it, no matter how well we brush our teeth, it is impossible to remove 100% of the plaque. There are times when we subconsciously brush our teeth while looking at our phones. There are also times when we completely forget to brush our teeth after an exhausting day (I am also guilty of this!). Hence, what happens is that plaque gradually accumulates over time.
As more time passes, this plaque solidifies to become calculus/tartar. At this stage, we cannot remove the calculus by ourselves and we will need to go do a dentist for a scaling visit. Some of you may ask: what’s wrong with a little calculus? Why do we need to remove it?
Leaving calculus and dirt for long periods of time around your teeth will eventually irritate your gums and cause swelling and inflammation. Does your teeth bleed a lot when you brush your teeth? This is a sign of gum irritation and swelling and points to you having dirty teeth. If you continue to leave your teeth in this state, you may eventually get a more severe form of gum disease called periodontitis (we will discuss this in another post).
So what happens during a cleaning visit to your dentist? We usually call these visits Scaling and Polishing visits. Scaling refers to the removal of the hard calculus. Polishing refers to the general removal of food stains that has accumulated over time.
This is the instrument we use to clean your teeth! It may look scary but fret not, scaling visits are usually tolerable (unless you have extremely dirty teeth!) The curved part of this instruments vibrates at a high speed and along with a constant stream of water, is used to mechanically remove the calculus.
(again, depending on how dirty your teeth is!) and you may feel sensitivity during the procedure. It is normal for bleeding to occur. This slight bleeding may continue for a few hours after scaling. Please resist the temptation to continually rinse your mouth with water. This will cause the bleeding to continue for a longer period of time. It is also normal to feel sensitivity after scaling. This is because calculus, ironically, acts as a ‘shield’ around your teeth. After removing this ‘shield’ of dirt, it is normal for you to experience sensitivity for a few days.
You will notice that calculus tends to accumulate in large amounts on the inner surface of your lower front teeth (see the picture above). Why is this so? This is because these teeth are close to the salivary glands under the tongue and are bathed in saliva most of the time. Usually this is a good thing as saliva has many protective properties. Saliva, however, also contains calcium, and this solidifies the plaque into calculus at a much faster rate.
In the next post, we discuss gum disease!