What is Involved in a Dental Cleaning?
Dental cleanings… we know they’re not the most highly anticipated event of your day, your week, your month or even your year. BUT, we do know that we’re your friends and that we can allay some of your fear by more clearly outlining and defining the steps involved in a dental cleaning.
Let’s face it, we understand that poking, prodding, jaw discomfort and foreign dental instruments making strange noises can trigger apprehension and anxiety. But, when you know what’s going on throughout the process, it can help to ease your stress and have you looking forward to that minty fresh ending. So with that, here’s the breakdown:
- Physical Exam: We begin a dental cleaning by having a dental hygienist perform a physical exam. This is an important evaluative step before proceeding with the dental cleaning. Throughout the physical exam, you will likely see a small mirror being used to check your teeth and gums for signs of gingivitis or other potential infections. If any concerning issues are detected, the dental hygienist may request that the dentist also checks out your mouth before proceeding with the dental cleaning.
- Eliminating Plaque & Tartar: Once your hygienist is ready to move onto your cleaning, you’ll notice the small mirror being used to guide other tools, like a scaler (the tool with a head that looks similar to a hook or a question mark) to remove dental plaque from your teeth and to remove tartar from around your gum line and in between your teeth. When you perform brushing and flossing regularly, you reduce the risk of developing plaque and having that harden into tartar. Tartar can only be removed with the expertise and tools of a dentist.
- Toothpaste Cleaning: Once your teeth are tartar-free, your dental hygienist will continue with your dental cleaning by using a high-powered electric toothbrush to enhance a deep clean. The gritty consistency of the toothpaste helps to further scrub and polish your teeth. It’s okay to brush your teeth with this level of intensity a couple of times per year but, in general, you should refrain from brushing your teeth as harshly on a regular basis as it can wear down your tooth enamel.
- Flossing: Of course we encourage you to floss at least once daily, twice if you can manage! However, we also acknowledge that there is nothing quite like a flossing session from a professional. A dental hygienist is coming into your mouth from a totally different angle and can more easily locate potential trouble spots while getting a deeper clean. This can also help to remove any lingering plaque or toothpaste from earlier in your dental cleaning. After flossing, your dental hygienist will likely instruct you to rinse out your mouth (this will also occur throughout the toothpaste cleaning) to remove any excess debris.
- Fluoride Treatment: The final step in your dental cleaning may include a fluoride treatment – you may even be able to choose a particular flavor! These treatments are used as a way to further protect your teeth in an effort to prevent cavities. At HDG, fluoride varnish is applied to your teeth using a little brush; we advise patients not to consume food or beverages until 30 minutes after the treatment.
Each dentist office may perform a dental cleaning slightly differently. If you ever have any questions about what is going on in or around your mouth, don’t be afraid to ask. For additional questions or information about the dental cleaning process performed at HDG, feel free to contact us!