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A dental cleaning is a procedure done by a dental hygienist to get into hard to reach areas between the gums and teeth in order to remove bacteria and food debris. Dental cleanings should be scheduled at least twice a year to remove plaque and tartar. Plaque is a soft covering which harbors bacteria and can harden into tartar, a hard substance which adheres to teeth. Too much plaque and tartar will cause gum disease. A dental hygienist has special tools which remove plaque and tartar so teeth are clean and gums are free of infection. Since plaque and tartar buildup happen on a daily basis, patients should brush and floss every day.
If the patient is suffering from gum disease, a deep cleaning or periodontal scaling and root planing may be performed. In this procedure the dental hygienist cleans the tooth in deep gum pockets where bacteria are proliferating. A patient with pockets of 4 mm or deeper might be recommended to have scaling and root planing. Patients with periodontal disease may need to be seen for cleanings every three to four months.