What does the dentist/hygienist do at a teeth cleaning?

teeth cleaning

Regular teeth cleanings are a vital part of preserving and enhancing oral health. There is a chance for a professional to care for your teeth and head off potential problems before they turn into something serious. There’s an established correlation between regular twice a year teeth cleanings and long-term oral health–so much so that most dentists now consider biennial cleanings a necessity.

While cleanings are routine, there are still some misunderstandings about them. Let’s take a moment and go through the process of teeth cleaning and see what happens so that you’ll know what to expect next time you make an appointment.

Generally speaking, the first step in a teeth cleaning is a thorough physical exam. Your dentist or dental hygienist will take this opportunity to examine your teeth in detail and check their condition while looking for any problems that may be developing. What goes into this exam may vary: sometimes your dentist may be satisfied with a visual exam, sometimes they may want to include some x-rays. Regardless, they’ll check and make sure that all’s well with your teeth and alert you to any potential issues they find.

The next step in the process is the beginning of the actual cleaning. This starts by removing plaque and tartar from your teeth and gums. Using a dental mirror to guide them, your dentist or dental hygienist will use a variety of dental tools to remove built-up plaque and tartar from your teeth. You may hear or feel a bit of scraping during this process, but that’s normal and it won’t hurt you or your teeth. This is the most time consuming and uncomfortable part of teeth cleaning for most people, so in order to minimize the duration, you’ll want to prevent plaque build-up by brushing and flossing regularly to prevent plaque and tartar buildup.

The next step in the process is a professional brushing using gritty toothpaste. This accomplishes several things. Firstly it uses a high-powered electric brush and gritty toothpaste to deep clean your teeth and gums, removing any debris or tartar left behind after the cleaning. Secondly, it helps polish your teeth, removing minor discoloration to restore some brightness to your smile. This particular combination of toothbrush and toothpaste is best handled by a professional–you can’t buy them in stores–but it’s safe twice a year and helps your teeth look and feel their best.

Next in the process an expert flossing and rinsing, which like brushing with gritty toothpaste works to remove debris from between your teeth. This lets your dentist or dental hygienist deep clean your teeth, look for any places where your gums bleed and remove any tartar or gritty toothpaste left over.