What are dental cleanings (“scale & polish”) and why have them?
Dental cleanings involve removing plaque (soft, sticky, bacteria infested film) and tartar (calculus) deposits that have built up on the teeth over time. Your teeth are continually bathed in saliva which contains calcium and other substances which help strengthen and protect the teeth. While this is a good thing, it also means that we tend to get a build-up of calcium deposits on the teeth. This chalky substance will eventually build up over time, like limescale in a pipe or kettle. Usually it is tooth coloured and can easily be mistaken as part of the teeth, but it also can vary from brown to black in colour.
If the scale, or calculus (tartar, as dentists like to call it) is allowed to accumulate on the teeth it will unfortunately provide the right conditions for bacteria to thrive next to the gums. The purpose of the cleaning and polishing is basically to leave the surfaces of the teeth clean and smooth so that bacteria are unable to stick to them and you have a better chance of keeping the teeth clean during your regular home care.
Also it leaves your teeth feeling lovely and smooth and clean, which is nice when you run your tongue around them.
The professional cleaning of teeth is sometimes referred to as prophylaxis (or prophy for short).
Your dentist may also apply fluoride. This is the final, and my favorite part of the dental cleaning! Fluoride comes in many different flavours such as chocolate, mint, strawberry, cherry, watermelon, pina colada and can be mixed and matched just like ice cream at a parlour for a great taste sensation! Make no mistake though, this in-office fluoride treatment is meant for topical use only on the surfaces of the teeth and swallowing excessive amounts can give a person a tummy ache as it is not meant to be ingested.
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We’re excited to partner with you for a lifetime of strong, healthy, beautiful smiles. Call 305-662-2599 to schedule your family’s checkups, your personal consultation, or a second-opinion visit with Dr. Ortega. We provide comprehensive cosmetic and neuromuscular dentistry, for patients from Miami, and all around the world in our inviting Coral Gables dental office.