Your dentist or dental hygienist will recommend you have a professional clean every 3 -12 months. Bacteria in your mouth form a thin film, called plaque, on your teeth. Over time the plaque and minerals in the saliva in your mouth form a hardened deposit called calculus (tartar). Regular brushing and flossing slows the build up of calculus but its removal requires a professional clean. If not removed calculus and plaque can lead to tooth decay and gingivitis (early gum disease). Gingivitis can progress to periodontitis and tooth loss.
During a professional clean your dentist or dental hygienist will scale and polish your teeth using a variety of instruments. Scaling involves removing plaque and calculus from teeth and around the gum line. Polishing smoothes the surface of your teeth. A professional clean is usually painless, although you may experience some minor discomfort or sensitivity. Discuss this with your dentist as they may be able to administer pain relief.