How often should teeth be cleaned professionally?
Regardless of how carefully you tend to your teeth, they should be cleaned professionally every six months. You simply can't reach every spot at home. It's on those hard-to-reach spots that plaque will accumulate and turn into cavity-causing compounds called tartar and calculus. Bacteria lives in plaque and calculus and converts foods to acids that attack tooth structure. Either your dentist or hygienist will do the cleaning, which consists mainly of scraping off the accumulated hardened deposits of plaque.
Generally, the cleaning will involve hand scraping of the accumulation with a small sickle-shaped instrument called a scaler or with use of an ultrasonic machine that generates high-frequency sound waves. Those waves are generated through a tip that actually vibrates plaque deposits loose. The plaque particles are then flushed off with water. Because part of the reason for cleaning your teeth is to avoid gum disease, or periodontal disease, it is necessary to clean the sides of the roots as well as the crowns. Once the teeth are thoroughly cleaned, the dentist will polish them with a mild abrasive, leaving you with clean teeth and a glistening smile.