MICHAEL MAZAHERI, DDS
Usually your initial appointment starts with a dental cleaning. 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 lime-scale in a pipe or kettle. Usually it is tooth colored and can easily be mistaken as part of the teeth, but it also can vary from brown to black in color.
How are dental cleanings done?
At our dentist office in Gilbert, AZ we use specialized instruments to gently remove these deposits without harming the teeth. The instruments which may be used during your cleaning are described below:
Commonly used first is an ultrasonic instrument which uses tickling vibrations to knock larger pieces of tartar loose. It also sprays a cooling mist of water while it works to wash away debris and keep the area at a proper temperature. The device typically emits a humming or high pitched whistling sound. This may seem louder than it actually is because the sound may get amplified inside your head, just like when you put an electric toothbrush into your mouth.
The ultrasonic instrument tips are curved and rounded and are always kept in motion around the teeth. They are by no means sharp since their purpose is to knock tartar loose and not to cut into the teeth. It is best to inform the operator if the sensations are too strong or ticklish so that they can adjust the setting appropriately on the device or modify the pressure applied.
With larger deposits that have hardened on, it can take some time to remove these, just like trying to remove baked-on grime on a stove that has been left over a long time. So your cleaning may take longer than future cleanings. Imagine not cleaning a house for six months versus cleaning it every week. The six-month job is going to take longer than doing smaller weekly jobs.
Once the larger pieces of tartar are gone, the dental worker will switch to finer hand tools (called scalers and curettes in dental-speak) to remove smaller deposits and smoothen the tooth surfaces. These tools are curved and shaped to match the curves of the teeth. They allow smaller tartar deposits to be removed by carefully scraping them off with a gentle to moderate amount of pressure. Just like taking a scrubbing brush to a soiled pot, the dental worker has to get the areas clean and smooth.
Once all the surfaces are smooth, the dental worker may polish your teeth. Polishing is done using a slow speed handpiece with a soft rubber cup that spins on the end. Prophylaxis (short for prophy) paste – a special gritty toothpaste-like material – comes in several pleasant flavors and is scooped up like ice cream into the cup and spun around on the teeth to make them shiny smooth and polished.
Dr. Mazaheri highly recommends application of fluoride at his Dentist Gilbert AZ office following the hygiene appointment. Fluoride comes in many different flavors such as strawberry, cherry, watermelon, orange. Fluoride foam is then placed into small, flexible foam trays and placed over the teeth for 60 seconds. Afterwards the patient is directed to spit as much out as possible into a saliva ejector. The fluoride helps to strengthen the teeth since the acids from bacteria in dental tartar and plaque will have weakened the surfaces. It is best not to eat, drink or rinse for 30 minutes after the fluoride has been applied.
Is it going to be painful?
Dr. Mazaheri is well known for providing gentle dental cleanings to his patients. Most people find that cleanings at our office are painless, and find the sensations described above – tickling vibrations, the cooling mist of water, and the feeling of pressure during “scraping” – do not cause discomfort. A lot of people even report that they enjoy cleanings and the lovely smooth feel of their teeth afterwards!
Painful cleaning experiences can be caused by a number of things such as a exposed dentin (not dangerous, but can make cleanings unpleasant), or sore gum tissues, but we will do all possible to make your cleanings as pleasant as possible. In case you may have had an uncomfortable cleaning experiences in the past, please let us know. Sometimes nitrous oxide ("laughing gas") can help put your mind at ease during the appointment. In certain cases, topical numbing gels can also be used during the procedure to help numb any discomfort from the gums.
Please feel free to give us a call if you have any questions regarding your cleaning appointment..