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 that 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 a hardened dental plaque that has been infused by minerals and can very tenaciously adhere to the tooth.
Bacteria colonize the gum crevice and also attach to the tooth surface. Their presence is 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 defense 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 are primarily from a group known as ‘gram-positive cocci.’ However, in diseased gums, the type of bacteria present changes. A more significant number of ‘filamentous gram-negative rods and spirochetes’ are present. These bacteria cause inflammation and bone loss. The bacterial (biofilm) contained in diseased gums secrete byproducts, which cause the gum and bone to be inflamed. One of the main byproducts (exotoxins) is known as leukotoxin, which has a toxic effect. For example, the disabling of immune cells known as ‘neutrophils’ occurs in the presence of leukotoxin. Consequently, neutrophils cannot destroy bacteria by their usual method called ‘phagocytosis.’
In addition to the bacterial aspect, calculus also causes bone loss because it is a hard foreign body. The bone will naturally resorb about 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 challenging, 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. Our hygienists will use a combination of ‘hand instrumentation’ followed by ‘ultrasonic instruments.’ The cornerstone of hand instrumentation is 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 small places in the gum crevice (periodontal pocket). St. Lawrence Dentistry uses the finest-crafted tools available for this process. One such example is our ‘Hu-Friedy line of ‘Gracey Curettes.’
After the hygienist has debrided the teeth with hand instruments, the use of ultrasonic instruments follows, which flushes the area and refines the cleaning. For ultrasonic instrumentation, St. Lawrence Dentistry uses the most advanced sonic devices on the market today. One example 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 has 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 generated 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 fewer 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 us.
References: Clinical Periodontology (Newman and Carranza 2014)