Cleanings should be performed every six months to prevent excessive plaque buildup. Plaque consists of masses of bacteria that grow between and on teeth, at and below the gum line. Plaque left untreated can lead to unhealthy gums and tooth decay. A routine dental cleaning should include scaling, root planing and polishing.
Scaling and root planing is the process of removing plaque and tartar from all tooth surfaces with a variety of methods, depending on the amount of plaque and tartar. Dental hygienists perform scaling by hand and/or with electric scalers. Polishing completes the cleaning, making the surface of the teeth smooth and minimizing future plaque build-up.