Tooth brushing and flossing are important dental habits to keep your teeth clean and healthy, however they are not enough. Dental problems, such as tartar (hardened plaque) build-up cannot be removed with a mere use of a tooth brush and a dental floss. Tartar build-up usually develops in areas where brushing and flossing cannot reach. This needs to be professionally cleaned by a dentist or a dental hygienist.

Tartar is diagnosed through dental exam performed by your dentist. It is recommended that you visit your dentist at least twice year for dental check-ups. During a dental exam, an oral examination is performed using a dental mirror to check the physical appearance of the teeth. Tartar accumulation may be seen through this examination, however in other cases, a dental x-ray may be taken to further assess the extent of plaque and tartar build-up present in the gum line, like in periodontal diseases.


During the dental exam, your dentist may prescribe teeth cleaning if he/she has detected the presence of plaque and tartar build-up. Tartar can only be removed through professional teeth cleaning. Professional teeth cleaning is called by many names such as “scale and polish” and “prophy”, short for prophylaxis. The procedure’s main goal is to keep the surface of the teeth clean and prevent bacteria from forming plaque and tartar, thus keeping your teeth and gums healthy.

Teeth cleaning is done through the use of different dental instruments to mildly remove the plaque and tartar build-up. First, an ultrasonic instrument is used to loosen and remove large tartar build-up. Once the tartar is loose, scalers and curettes are used to remove finer tartar deposits. After which, polishing is performed to further smoothen and clean the teeth surface. Flossing is also done to remove remaining plaque in-between teeth. Lastly, the dentist may apply fluorid to strengthen the teeth and prevent tooth decay.

Teeth cleaning helps prevent gum diseases such as gingivitis and periodontitis by scaling both supragingival and subgingival areas throughout the teeth. It is important that you undergo teeth cleaning regularly to maintain the health of your teeth and gums. Contact your trusted dentist or dental hygienist and have you scheduled for a teeth cleaning to prevent future dental problems.