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orthodontist chapel hillWith Christmas coming up, you might be seeing advertisements for plaque scrapers that you can use at home to remove tartar and stains. While it may be tempting to buy these as gifts for your friends and family, you should be aware that you can damage your teeth and gums with DIY plaque scraping. Our orthodontist in Chapel Hill explains more below. 

Importance of Plaque Removal

Plaque causes gum disease and tooth decay over time, leading to periodontal disease and cavities. However, while plaque needs to be removed regularly, it shouldn't be done at home – it needs to be performed by a dentist or dental hygienist. You’re probably familiar with these tools – your dentist or hygienist uses them when you visit for your regular cleaning. Metal dental scalers are used to remove plaque and tartar from the tooth surface and underneath the gum line. Your hygienist may also scale the root surface (referred to as root planing) to smooth the tooth roots and remove stains. After scraping your teeth, they will polish your teeth for a smooth, clean, stain-free surface. 

DIY Plaque Scraping

Though you can buy plaque scrapers at the store or online, these are specialized medical tools that take proper training to use safely and effectively. Hygienists attend university and receive two years of training, ensuring that they know how to use dental scalers and other tools safely. Improper use can damage the delicate gum tissue, which is painful and leads to gum recession. The sharp plaque scraper can also cause injuries to your cheeks and tongue.

Another risk of DIY plaque scraping is infection. When used improperly, tartar can get pushed further under the gum line, worsening any existing gum disease or infection. 

Safe Plaque Removal

If you need to remove staining, plaque, or are concerned about gum disease, simply visit our dentist for a professional cleaning. We will determine what type of cleaning you need and also address any dental issues you may have. In the meantime, make sure that you floss and brush regularly – leave plaque removal to trained professionals!

Contact Our Orthodontist in Chapel Hill For More Information!

The information provided in this article is not meant to be medical advice and is for educational purposes only. If you would like to learn more about retainers and other topics related to orthodontic treatment, feel free to contact Wilson Orthodontics, with a convenient orthodontic office in Chapel Hill by clicking here or by calling 919.371.0384.


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