Being a clinician, it’s not unusual for us to come across patients who have poor oral hygiene. From having minor coffee or smoking stains to loads of calculus, we see different levels of debris deposits in a mouth. When a patient is asked to get teeth cleaned, if not all, at least some of them are really apprehensive towards this particular dental treatment. Reasons to be heard are that cleaning damages teeth by causing sensitivity or loosen them by creating gaps, while others believe it’s just a ‘not-so-needed’ treatment advised by the dentist only to expand the treatment plan! So question remains,
Is it really necessary?
Oral prophylaxis or scaling is one of the most ignored dental treatment opted by patients as they don’t understand the importance of it. When plaque and debris start getting deposited at the margin of gums, the gums being very sensitive towards any foreign particles, responds in various ways. With time, gums recede and may show signs of inflammation. If left untreated, bone loss follows and causes mobility or loosening of teeth. It starts a sequel of oral problems which becomes expensive and intensive to treat when delayed. As the teeth lose support from the bones, they become mobile and eventually come out. What could have been saved by a simple process of scaling, the treatment plan expands to implants or bridges to replace the missing teeth which is more time taking and way more expensive than oral prophylaxis.
Bad breath or halitosis can also be treated by oral prophylaxis.
Myth 1: Scaling damages the enamel
The equipment used to clean teeth, that is ultrasonic or manual scalers are not made to harm enamel in any way. They only clean the debris and don't damage the tooth structure.
Myth 2: Teeth become loose after getting them cleaned
With prolonged deposits of debris, the teeth themselves become weak and lose support from the bone. If left untreated the disease will only progress and cleaning is the only treatment to the healthy support back.
Myth 3: Cleaning causes gaps between the teeth.
Scaling doesn’t create new spaces or gaps among teeth. It has already been created by calculus deposits and loss of bone support. The spaces had earlier been filled by debris so were not visible. Once cleaned, the spaces become vacant and apparently gives a feel that they have been created after cleaning. The only way to prevent formation of gaps is to maintain a proper oral hygiene and not letting formation of calculus in the first place. This can only be achieved by regular check-ups and prophylaxis.
Myth 4: Scaling causes sensitivity.
Patients may feel sensitivity after getting teeth cleaned which is due to exposure of otherwise covered tooth or root structures by debris. It is temporary and usually goes in 1-2 days after using sensitive toothpaste.
Myth 5: Scaling is not needed if I brush twice daily and use mouthwashes.
Normal brushing doesn’t clean all the debris. Once calculus has been deposited or stains has been formed, it’s impossible to clean it with normal brushing at home. No toothpastes, mouthwashes, gels or medicines will help unless the deposits have been removed physically.
No toothpaste can cure bleeding gums!
If you believe that using a specific toothpaste will ‘cure’ your bleeding gums, then you will be disappointed. Gums bleed for several reasons, the most common being incorrect brushing that leads to accumulation of food particles and plaque along the gum margin. Bacterial breakdown of these leads to inflammation of gums and subsequent bleeding. The toothpaste used is almost immaterial. All it needs a manual or ultrasonic cleaning and you're good to go in the least expensive and hassle-free manner because the saying goes, dentistry is not expensive, neglect is!