At Williamson Pediatric Dentistry, one of our primary and most important services for your child or children is a dental prophylaxis (cleaning).
Routine dental cleanings are recommended for several reasons. The main reason is to remove any buildup from your child’s teeth, which can include dental plaque (the soft stuff) or calculus / tartar (the hard stuff).
- Dental plaque is a colony or collection of bacteria that attach to the outer surface of your tooth. If not removed on a regular basis (at least twice daily with standard home brushing), the bacteria can begin to increase in number. As they do this, they create a biofilm on the outside of the tooth, which grows in size and number. As bacteria grow, they reproduce, secreting acid onto the tooth, which in turn can start to break down the outer surface of our teeth, called the enamel. When enamel breaks down, it becomes decalcified, which allows the bacteria to start to move inside of our tooth. This is what ultimately results in a tooth developing a cavity.
- Calculus or tartar is the result of healthy bacterial plaque staying on the tooth for an extended period of time and hardening to the tooth due to minerals in our saliva. Once calculus forms on a tooth, it can no longer be removed by a toothbrush alone, and must be removed by the dentist or dental hygienist using instruments called scalers. Failure to remove calculus can result in continued accumulation which starts to happen above the gum tissue, but can eventually move below the gum tissue, leading to increased inflammation of the gums and supporting tooth structures. This is how gingivitis and periodontal (bone) disease occur.
After the bulk of plaque and calculus are cleaned from the teeth, we will polish your child’s teeth so that they shine, and feel smooth and slick on the outside! The reason that they feel this way after we are finished is we have polished away the bacterial biofilm, which leaves a clean exposed layer of enamel, into which saliva can begin to rehydrate the tooth. It’s at this time in the cleaning that a fluoride application is most beneficial, as it can absorb into the tooth immediately, enhancing the remineralization process of the tooth.
After the cleaning is completed, we will do a thorough examination so that we can see how your child’s teeth are doing. We will evaluate to make sure your child doesn’t have any problems that need attention. It is our goal to identify any problems that we may find, and counsel you on the best way to address them. We will also go over proper home care and review important pieces of information that will help us make sure your child is getting everything he or she needs to have optimal oral health.
If your child needs a dental cleaning or you have any questions, feel free to contact us today at (615) 614-2424.