Teeth cleaning is performed at a dental office to remove plaque and tartar from the teeth. Plaque is a sticky film containing bacteria that forms on the tooth surface. Tartar is mineralized plaque that is hardened and difficult to remove with a toothbrush. Excessive plaque and tartar deposits can lead to gingivitis or inflammation of the gums if left untreated. Regular professional teeth cleaning helps prevent decay and treat gum disease. Scaling, a procedure to clean the area below your gum line, may also be performed while cleaning the teeth. Your dentist or hygienist uses a manual scaler or a high-speed ultrasonic instrument to clean the tooth surfaces.