Newer 'airflow' dental cleaning removes plaque with less scraping

Dr. Hannah Alexander of Alexander Family Dentistry in Smyrna says you need a good dental cleaning every six months or so to keep your teeth and gums healthy.

"You want to take tartar off because it can do a lot of damage," Alexander told FOX 5. "So if gums are bleeding, it's because tartar is sitting around, or plaque is sitting around, that then that turns into what I think of as, like, thorns. So, they're poking your gums. That can lead to periodontal disease. It can lead to bleeding gums."

But, Alexander admits many patients cringe at the scraping that comes with a traditional manual scale and polish dental cleaning.

"It's like nails on a chalkboard, and I don't like it either," she said. "I'm a psych major. So, for me, I pay attention to what's bothering my patients. That noise really does bother everyone."

So her practice has switched to airflow cleaning. It's a newer approach that uses a combination of warm water, compressed air, and fine powder particles to get rid of plaque and bacteria that can build up on and around the teeth.

"It is very gentle to the tooth structure and the gums, the tissue, and it allows for me to get below the gum line, well below the gum line, at an angle of 45 degrees, so that we can take out all the bacteria that's sitting there in those pockets," Alexander says.

An airflow cleaning takes about 30 minutes, and Alexander says it allows her team to get your smile in shape with a lot less scraping.

"It allows for me to get around the entire tooth, take off the calculus, and then they don't have to be, you know, numb," she said.

That said, if you have sensitive gums and teeth or severe tartar build-up, Alexander says they can numb your mouth before your cleaning.

She says a dental cleaning should never be painful.