Maybe it’s getting to be that time again for a routine dental cleaning and your child is asking you what is done in a dental cleaning. Maybe you haven’t been to the dentist in a long time and know that you need to start coming in regularly again. You try to remind yourself that there isn’t anything to worry about.
Whether it’s trying to satisfy your refresh your child’s memory or calm your pre-appointment jitters, here is a breakdown of what a typical teeth cleaning procedure looks like:
Step 1: A Physical Exam of the Mouth
It is likely that your teeth cleaning will be done by a dental hygienist, not a dentist. The first part of the teeth cleaning appointment will entail a thorough examination of your teeth and gums. It is during this step where the hygienist may poke and prod your teeth and gums, scrape the teeth and take x-rays (if it is your first appointment at that dental office). They look for cavities, abscessed teeth, teeth misalignment and gum disease.
If they come across something concerning, they may call in the dentist to have him or her take a look.
Step 2: Removing Plaque and Tartar
After the initial examination, the dental hygienist will go around with a tiny mirror and the infamous scaler to eliminate the plaque and tartar that has built up along the gum line. It is this step that may cause the accidental pricks and bleeding of the gums and the notorious scrapping sound.
Step 3: Toothpaste Cleaning
After the hygienist has removed all the tartar from your teeth, the teeth cleaning will commence. Often, a high-powered toothbrush will be used and the gritty toothpaste. Sometimes you’ll have the option to choose the flavor of toothpaste. During the brushing, it is common to hear a grinding sound. The sound is coming from the toothbrush.
The combination of the high-power of the toothbrush and the grittiness of the toothpaste, this professional, deep cleaning will be able to clean your teeth better than you can at home. While your dentist may be hard on your teeth, it is not recommended to brush your teeth as hard at home on a daily basis and you’ll risk scraping off the tooth enamel.
Step 4: Flossing
When your teeth are all brushed and cleaned, the dental hygienist will clean between your teeth by flossing. Even patients who floss daily at home can benefit from a professional flossing. The dental hygienist knows the correct way to floss and he or she will be able to floss deep in between the teeth. Some people get nervous during this step because their gums begin to bleed. This is normal. The dental hygienist likely flosses more rigorously and deeper than you do at home, so your gums may be sensitive to that type of flossing.
Step 5: Fluoride Rinse
You’ll then rinse off the toothpaste with water and then you’ll swish around a liquid fluoride solution. After swishing with fluoride, your dental hygienist may apply a foamy fluoride gel to a mouthpiece that you’ll then bite onto for a minute. This final step will help keep your teeth cavity resistant until your next teeth cleaning appointment.
Your routine 6-month dental check-up and cleanings are also a good time to ask your dentist questions or voice any concerns you may have.
The regular, six-month teeth cleaning appointment is simple, fast and oftentimes not very painful. They aren’t anything to be scared of and the more consistently patients come in, the less their anxiety is.