We know that for most of our patients, their favorite part of a dental cleaning is how smooth and clean their teeth feel afterward, not to mention how shiny they are. Tooth polishing has long been part of the dental checkup routine ever since the 1700s when Pierre Fauchard, the father of modern dentistry, recommended it. However, if you've had your teeth cleaned recently (and you have, right?) you may have noticed that your dentist or hygienist didn't polish every single tooth. That's because the results of recent studies are changing how dentists and dental hygienists approach polishing.
First, let's do a quick review of what happens during a dental cleaning appointment. The whole point of a dental cleaning is to remove plaque and tartar that has accumulated on your teeth. If not removed, this bacteria-laden debris can lead to cavities and gum disease. The hygienist will go after the most stubborn buildup with an ultrasonic tool, which uses the power of fine vibrations to break up tartar and water to flush it away. Next, the hygienist may use hand tools to remove any smaller spots of buildup and to smooth out the tooth surface.
After your teeth have been thoroughly cleaned and all the plaque and tartar removed, then it's time for polishing. Most polishing is done with a tiny rubber cup that spins on the end of a hand-held wand. Before polishing your teeth, the hygienist scoops up some prophy paste onto the rubber cup. Prophy paste is like an extra-gritty version of toothpaste, which often comes in similar flavors. The hygienist then applies the prophy paste to your teeth, and the spinning of the cup polishes your teeth and removes stains. After rinsing your mouth, the hygienist may floss your teeth, then apply a fluoride treatment, which helps teeth absorb minerals that make them stronger.
In fact, removing surface stains is the primary purpose of tooth polishing these days. In the past, it was thought that polishing teeth to make them smoother made it harder for the bacteria-laden gunk that leads to gum disease and tooth decay to attach to teeth. It turns out that removing plaque and tartar during the ultrasonic scaling part of your hygiene visit is really what helps keep bacteria from adhering (plus your daily home oral hygiene routine, of course). While polishing certainly smooths out your teeth, it hasn't been shown to make a huge difference in preventing gum disease or tooth decay. In fact, some studies have shown that polishing can even temporarily weaken your tooth enamel, making your teeth slightly more vulnerable until the outer layer of enamel grows back.
Many dental professionals now consider polishing to be primarily a cosmetic procedure. That's why some dentists and hygienists only do selective polishing, in which they only choose certain teeth to polish, such as those with superficial stains that didn't get removed by the ultrasonic cleaning or hand tools. So while polishing is certainly nice to get that perfectly smooth feeling after your appointment, don't be alarmed if your hygienist doesn't polish all of your teeth. Polishing is not as important to preventing oral problems as the ultrasonic cleaning and manual removal of plaque and tartar and tooth-strengthening fluoride treatments.
If you have any questions about the dental cleaning process, always feel free to ask us! We look forward to seeing you at your next appointment.
Attend the Morning Knitting & Crochet Meetup at the North Plainfield Library in North Plainfield on Tuesday, September 26.
Dr. Sonal Deshpande is a gentle, caring dentist who uses the most advanced materials and procedures available. She practices comfortable, caring dentistry focused on establishing optimal oral health, with a strong emphasis on getting to know each patient. In addition to her technical proficiency, Dr. Sonal Deshpande is a careful listener and will explain beforehand which treatment is best for your individual needs.
Have you ever looked at a celebrity smile & wished your smile could be equally perfect. Well, it's no big secret among dentists that most Hollywood stars were not born with perfect teeth. For many celebrities, their Hollywood smiles are achieved with the help of cosmetic dentistry, particularly porcelain veneers.
The color of their teeth is one of the top things people say they would like to change about their smile. Thankfully, teeth whitening is fairly simple treatment, but there are so many options for teeth whitening you may find yourself with a few questions. We think the most common and the most important question we hear is this: Why should I have my dentist whiten my teeth instead of using those drugstore whitening kits?
If you are looking for dentists in North Plainfield, NJ, look no further than Brilliant Smiles of North Plainfield for all of your dentistry needs. Whether you want a simple dental cleaning or you have a dental emergency, we are here to help. Contact us now.Request AppointmentCall us