Besides keeping your teeth shiny, have you ever wondered how your dental cleaning actually help your teeth?
In short, the answer is dental cleanings help control inflammation and this is the focus of the dental hygienists at St. Lawrence Dentistry.
Dental cleanings are a group of procedures carried out by dental hygienists which involve removing calculus and plaque on your teeth and the surrounding gum (gingival tissue).
Dental plaque is soft debris which can adhere to the tooth surface and is composed of organic and inorganic materials derived from saliva, gingival crevicular fluid (fluid in the gums) & bacterial products. Dental calculus (Tartar) is hardened dental plaque which has been infused by minerals and can very tenaciously adhere to the tooth.
Bacteria in calculus and plaque which colonize the gum crevice and attach to the tooth surface are the primary cause of gingivitis (gum inflammation) and periodontitis (dental bone loss). Small amounts of plaque can be present in some individuals without causing issues because of host defence mechanisms (strong immune response). However, when the bacterial load becomes more than the immune system can tolerate a breakdown of the dental tissues occurs. In both healthy and diseased gum tissue there are bacteria at all times. In healthy gums the bacteria is largely composed of bacteria known as gram positive cocci’. However, in diseased gums there is a shift in the flora to a greater number of bacteria known as ‘filamentous gram-negative rods and spirochetes’. These bacteria cause inflammation and bone loss. This is because the bacterial (biofilm) contained in diseased gums secretes byproducts which cause the gum and bone to be inflamed. One of the main byproducts (exotoxins) is known as leukotoxin. This has a toxic effect on some of the bodies immune cells known as neutrophils. When neutrophils are disabled the body cannot destroy bacteria by its usual method called ‘phagocytosis’.
In addition to the bacterial aspect, calculus also causes bone loss in that it is a hard foreign body and the bone will naturally resorb 3mm away from any foreign substance. So if a piece of calculus is lodged right in your gum right at the bone level you can expect the bone to recede if it is left there. It is sometimes very difficult, time-consuming, and expensive to regenerate this bone so it is best to prevent it in the first place.
Fortunately dental hygienists at St. Lawrence Dentistry can treat the bacteria in gums by effective and conservative methods. This is accomplished first by hand instrumentation followed by ultrasonic instruments. The cornerstone of hand instrumentation are procedures known as ‘scaling and root planing’. This step is essential to treat diseased gum tissue and there is ample evidence to support this. The dental hygienist uses very refined and sharp instruments to disrupt any bacteria (biofilm) and can access narrow places in the gum crevice (periodontal pocket). Some of these instruments are micro mini curettes and files. St. Lawrence Dentistry uses the finest crafted instruments available for this process. One such example is the Hu-Friedy line of ‘Gracey Curettes’.
After the hygienist has debrided the teeth with hand instruments the use of ultrasonic instruments generally follows and can flush the area and refine the cleaning. For ultrasonic instrumentation, St. Lawrence Dentistry uses the most advanced sonic devices on the market today. One examples of this is the patented technologies of our NEWTRON® ultrasonic generators. These leading instruments help us reaffirm our promise of the best possible care to our patients. The reason why these instruments are so effective is that the Newtron sonics employed by St. Lawrence Dentistry have high-frequency ultrasonic tip vibration which creates cavitation bubbles in the fluid. When these bubbles contact a surface, they collapse and release energy. The energy created by the collapsing bubbles is sufficient to destroy cell membranes of the bacteria harming the gum tissue. In other words, the ultrasonic spray itself may be lethal to the pathogens frequently implicated in gum disease.
A visit to the hygienist at St. Lawrence Dentistry directly results in less bacteria in your gums which directly impacts the health of your dentition. If you would like to learn more about the importance of hygiene visits or would like to book an appointment at our office please call usclick here.
References: Clinical Periodontology (Newman and Carranza 2014)