Most of us are familiar with the limescale build up that can occur in a kettle. Over time, similar looking deposits build up on our teeth. These are known as tartar or plaque, a film like substance infested with bacteria and can be removed by dental cleaning, also referred to as scaling.
Our teeth are naturally protected and continually strengthened by our saliva, which contains calcium, something that also works to continually strengthen out teeth and bones. However, this also eventually leads to an accumulation of calcium deposits on our teeth. This chalky kind of substance can be difficult to see, since it’s usually the same colour as our teeth, although it can also be various shades of brown or even black in some cases.
While the calcium is good for us, an unchecked build up of tartar and plaque on our teeth also allows bacteria to grow right next to our gums. Scaling polishes and cleans our teeth, leaving the surfaces smooth enough to prevent bacteria from attaching itself. Following scaling, your teeth will feel really clean and smooth and you will also find it easier to maintain that cleanliness on a daily basis through regular brushing and flossing.
Prophylaxis is a medical treatment designed to maintain a patient’s health and prevent the spread of disease. In dental terms, this refers to the cleaning of teeth to help prevent tooth decay and periodontal or gum disease, applying caries-preventing agents, checking for signs of food impaction which may have cause damage to the teeth and the maintenance of dental prostheses and restorations. Dental prophylaxis involves plaque detection, dental polishing. Dental scaling removes plaque and tartar from the surface of teeth. Dental polishing helps to maintain a smooth and glossy surface finish on a denture or amalgam filling.
In medicine, a topical treatment is one used on the surface of the skin, rather than a medication that is ingested or is injected into the body. In dentistry, this refers to treatment on the surface of the tooth. Fluoride therapy refers to the application of fluoride to the surface of the teeth in order to guard against tooth decay and thus prevent cavities. Fluoride is most commonly applied to the teeth topically by the use of varnishes, gels, toothpastes or mouthwash. The systemic delivery of fluoride by a dentist involves fluoride supplementation using water, salt, and also the swallowing of drops or tablets, although these are rarely recommend in areas with a fluoridated public water supply.
Topical fluoride affects the teeth directly and is considered the most effective means of preventing tooth decay. Fluoride acts as a barrier against the decay-producing bacteria contained in plaque and stabilizes the natural minerals in the teeth, slowing down or preventing altogether the development of cavities. Most people apply fluoride directly to the teeth on a daily basis in the form of toothpaste or mouthwash. Topical fluoride can also be professionally applied by a dentist in the form of varnishes, gels or foams, which renew the high levels of fluoride in the outer layer of enamel. These types of applications are often recommended for those children who may be especially prone to cavities, have a related medical problem which reduces their resistance to the development of tooth decay or have a high sugar content in their diet.