Teeth cleaning is part of oral hygiene and involves the removal of dental plaque from teeth to prevent cavities (dental caries), gingivitis, and periodontal disease, performed at a dental office. People routinely clean their teeth by brushing, and interdental cleaning and dental hygienists can remove hardened deposits (tartar) not removed by routine cleaning. Those with dentures and natural teeth may supplement their cleaning with a denture cleaner.
Many people dread teeth cleanings. Between the prodding, strange noises, and occasional jaw discomfort, it’s easy to understand their apprehension. But for most, a teeth cleaning is simple and painless. Knowing precisely what is going on during the process can help ease your stress and allow you to enjoy the minty-fresh results better.
The Process Of Teeth Cleaning
At Universal Dental:
A dental hygienist performs most teeth cleanings. Before the cleaning process begins, they start with a physical exam of your entire mouth.
The dental hygienist uses a small mirror to check around your teeth and gums for any signs of gingivitis (inflamed gums) or other potential concerns. If they detect major problems, the dental hygienist might call the dentist to make sure it’s fine to proceed.
With a small mirror to guide them, the dental hygienist uses a scaler to remove plaque and tartar around your gum line and between your teeth. You’ll hear scraping, but this is normal. The more tartar there is in your mouth, the more time they’ll need to scrape a particular spot.
Brushing and flossing stop plaque from building up and hardening into tartar. Once you have tartar, you can only have it removed at your dentist’s office. So if this is your least favorite part of the teeth cleaning process, the lesson is to brush and floss more often.
After your teeth are entirely tartar-free, the hygienist brushes them with a high-powered electric brush, which makes a grinding noise. While it sounds scary, it’s a great way to get a deep clean and remove any tartar left behind from the scaler.
Professional cleanings use toothpaste that smells and tastes like regular toothpaste, though you can often choose between flavors. However, it has a gritty consistency that gently scrubs your teeth. If done by a professional, this teeth polishing is deemed safe twice a year. But don’t be as harsh with your teeth at home because you’ll wear down the enamel.
Nothing beats an expert flossing session, whether you are regularly at home or not. Your dental hygienist can get deep between your teeth and locate any potential trouble spots where you might bleed at the gums.
This might seem pointless if you floss at home, but having a professional floss your teeth also removes any leftover plaque or toothpaste from earlier in the cleaning process.
Next, you rinse out your mouth to get rid of any debris. Your dental hygienist will usually give you a rinse that contains liquid fluoride.
The last step of the cleaning process is a fluoride treatment. This treatment is used to protect your teeth to help fight against cavities for several months. Your dental hygienist may ask you what flavor you like best. They’ll then place the foamy gel (or sometimes a sticky paste) into a mouthpiece that fits over your teeth. It’s usually left on your teeth for one minute. Besides the foamy gel, fluoride varnish is painted onto the teeth with a small brush. Fluoride varnish will harden when in contact with saliva, so you can eat and drink it immediately after.
Professional teeth cleanings are scheduled twice a year, while X-rays are typically done once a year. Still, depending on what your dentist or dental hygienist observes in your mouth, they might do other exams during your visit. For children, a dentist may recommend molar sealants to help prevent cavities in hard-to-brush areas.
Whether you need any additional steps, the key is to go to the dentist for regular teeth cleanings to prevent problems altogether. By understanding what’s going on in advance, you’ll feel more at ease — and maybe even look forward to these appointments.