Your hygienist knows best

Did you know? During a routine dental cleaning, there are a lot of important techniques that the dental hygienist uses! The hygienist removes more than tenacious deposits of tartar from teeth. In addition to scaling teeth both above and below the gums, he or she is also simultaneously destroying colonies of bacteria that have been growing comfortably below the gums since your last cleaning.

Gingivitis and periodontal disease are influenced by many factors such as diet, lifestyle, oral hygiene at home, overall health and genetics. However, there are two main factors that directly affect the health of the gums by increasing the risk of inflammation and recession, and ultimately, bone loss around the teeth. These two culprits are tartar deposits both above and below the gums, and bacterial colonies or biofilms below the gums.

Beware of harmful bacteria…

Bacterial biofilms are basically colonies or communities of bacteria, and they’re present everywhere in the mouth. They fester on the teeth, the gums, the tongue, the lining of the cheeks and even on dental work, including dental implants. Dental plaque is a type of biofilm which accumulates on teeth soon after eating. Fortunately, dental plaque with all its many bacterial species can be removed by tooth brushing within 24 hours.

There are approximately 1000 different types of bacteria in the mouth; most flourishing well in communities known as biofilms. The most concerning and disease-causing bacterial colonies present in the mouth are found below the gums, in the “pocket” area around each tooth. The bacteria lurking below the gums is a very specialized type of bacteria. It doesn’t need oxygen to survive or grow and is referred to as anaerobic gram negative bacteria. These bacterial colonies flourish below the gums in the “pockets” and are responsible for infections and inflammation in the gum tissue. They ingest the sugars from our diet and produce toxins and acids that attack the gums and teeth causing gingivitis, periodontal disease, tissue and bone destruction and bad breath. Yikes!

Special dental tools to the rescue!

During a dental cleaning, the instruments (scalers) used to remove tartar below the gums are also removing and destroying the bacterial biofilms or bacterial communities of anaerobic bacteria hiding below the gums. Unfortunately, there will always be some bacteria remaining since the mouth can never be a sterile environment. However, the great news is that anaerobic bacteria remaining is temporarily disabled from producing toxins and acids.

Research shows that after a dental cleaning, anaerobic bacteria found below the gums require 3-12 weeks to re-establish themselves and their communities. This is a true concern for individuals who are at risk for chronic gingivitis and periodontal disease, thus, treatment planning future dental cleanings are paramount to the health of the gums and mouth. In fact, this has a lot to do with why some individuals are advised to have dental cleanings every 3-4 months. Three month-interval cleanings in conjunction with excellent oral hygiene care at home are crucial in order to maintain optimum oral health long-term. Healthy gums and teeth are not only about tartar control, but also about controlling the bacterial colonies and/or biofilms below the gums.

When’s the last time you’ve had a dental cleaning?

It’s no question: regular dental cleanings are incredibly important for ensuring the health of our gums and teeth! Only the dental hygienist can thoroughly remove tartar and bacteria from both above and below the gums… and this is necessary in order to maintain a healthy smile for life.

Been a while? Contact our Pina Mazza today to schedule a refreshing (and necessary) cleaning for your precious smile. Email, or call the office at 905-597-6342!


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