What professional tooth cleaning really brings

What professional tooth cleaning really brings

Every day you brush your teeth and clean the spaces between them with dental floss or interdental brushes. Then you go regularly to the tooth cleaning, have the professional brush, polish and varnish. However, the dentist still complains that you should pay more attention to dental hygiene.

For some people, dental care does not seem to work properly. Do you do something wrong? “This can only be clarified individually,” says Claus Gasteyer from the Practice for Aesthetic Dentistry in Frankfurt. There are a number of reasons why daily oral hygiene is not sufficient for many: unfavourable tooth positions or shapes, incorrect brushing techniques, unsuitable brushes and the frequent consumption of sweets or acids are classic causes of persistent dental plaque.

Abrasive paper is also used

But these can have unpleasant, even dangerous consequences if they are not properly combated. The metabolic products of the bacteria living in the plaque cause plaque and tartar to form. Bleeding gums (gingivitis), bad breath, caries at a young age, later periodontitis (inflammation of the gums) and even tooth loss can be the result.

Almost every sixth child has bad teeth

The good news is: Fewer and fewer children have tooth decay. Nevertheless, almost every sixth child of pre-school age has lazy teeth. Especially children from socially disadvantaged families are affected.

In addition to good and regular dental care, you can also take countermeasures with professional dental cleaning. But you usually have to pay for it yourself.

During such a professional tooth cleaning, the condition of teeth and gums is first analysed, because the treatment is also based on this. Then prophylaxis helpers – specially trained dental technicians or dental hygienists – remove visible plaque with brushes, sandpaper strips and dental floss, tartar with hook-like instruments. A water-powder jet removes dark discolorations and destroys residues of the biofilm.

Dye tablets reveal forgotten corners

The tooth surfaces are then polished with rotating brushes and calyxes and a fluoride-rich paste. This is to prevent the bacteria from adhering again quickly. Fluoride-containing varnish or gel forms a further protective shield. If one did not already get care tips, now the own cleaning technology stands on the test stand. It is also about the right toothbrush, the correct use of floss and the reduction of bacteria through tongue cleaning as well as the role of nutrition.

Stiftung Warentest, for example, advises that any remaining plaque or tartar should be made visible with staining tablets and, if necessary, asked to be repaired.

Professional care naturally only helps in the medium and long term against tooth decay, parodontitis and other tooth and gum diseases if the teeth are well cared for daily at home. “Professional tooth cleaning is not a carte blanche, it is not a carte blanche to take oral hygiene too seriously,” warns Gasteyer.

Dental hygiene deteriorates with age

Gregor Bornes, dental expert at the Independent Patient Advice Centre (UPD) in Cologne, also emphasises: “The most important task of professional dental cleaning is to advise patients on how to improve their own daily oral hygiene”. For some, brushing their teeth leaves a lot to be desired. “Older people have less fine motor skills,” says Bornes, “and their gums become softer and flabbier, and diseases and the use of medication are added. The teeth have to be tested more closely and a softer or electric toothbrush has to be used. A more frequent professional care then makes sense.

Even those who smoke or drink a lot of tea, coffee and red wine usually pay for it with dark discolorations in hard-to-reach places. However, smoking is one of the main risk factors for periodontitis. “Unfortunately, smoking masks bleeding gums – one of the few symptoms of periodontitis. This can make the gums of smokers appear healthier than they actually are. Smokers, but also dentists, should take this into account,” explains Thomas Dietrich, a dentist at the University of Birmingham. Among other things, he researches how smoking and tooth loss are related.

Cash registers usually do not cover the costs

An unfavourable bacterial composition in the mouth or a low salivary flow lead to plaque more quickly. Deep tooth pockets caused by previous unnoticed inflammation are true bacterial pockets. An immune system weakened by stress or diseases such as diabetes are further reasons to shorten the intervals between visits to the dentist. Brackets, braces or dentures cause cleaning problems. “And bulimics or patients whose mouth is dry after taking tablets tend to have caries and periodontitis,” adds Gasteyer.

The treatment is not included in the benefits catalogue of the statutory health insurance funds. Once a year, the health insurers pay for the removal of tartar, but not for the removal of soft plaque. Only a few health insurers cover the entire costs or grant a subsidy. The costs often depend on the duration of the treatment. It depends on the number of teeth and your own oral hygiene. In July 2015, Stiftung Warentest calculated the average cost for 45 minutes at around 73 euros per session for statutory health insurance patients and 112 euros for private patients.

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Christina Cherry
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