What Does a Dental Cleaning Involve?

January 22, 2021

When it comes to dental procedures, a dental cleaning is one of the most important appointments to keep. It is performed by a dental hygienist, lasts anywhere between 30-60-minutes, and is critical for keeping your gums and teeth clean and free from plaque, tartar, and inflammation.

While the teeth cleaning process is typically painless and quick for most, for some, the scraping, prodding, and gritty toothpaste can make for an uncomfortable experience. 

For those who have dental phobias or general stress around dental cleaning, knowing what to expect can help make your experience a smooth one. 

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1. An Examination of Your Teeth & Gums

Before the dental cleaning process begins, a dental hygienist will perform a physical examination of your teeth and gums. This involves using a small, concave mirror to check the mouth for any signs of oral problems such as the buildup of tartar, plaque, cavities, or inflammation in the gums.    

While not always done, your dentist may take dental x-rays to look for oral issues like bone loss, tooth decay, gum disease, tumors, cysts, oral abnormalities, and tooth movement. 

2. Tartar & Plaque Removal via Scaling.

A small, hooked tool called a scaler will then be used between your teeth and around the gum line. It will remove any plaque and tartar buildup, which is what causes cavities and gum disease when left untreated.

This stage of the dental cleaning process may be a bit uncomfortable due to the scraping noises the scaler makes. If you find yourself uneasy, ask to take a minute or two to adjust yourself or to inquire about having an ultrasonic scaler used. The ultrasonic scaler uses water and gentle vibrations to remove plaque and tartar buildup. 

3. Stain Removal With Polish.

After the plaque and tartar is removed, you may be asked to pick a flavor of special toothpaste. This gritty toothpaste, called prophylaxis paste, is used in combination with a unique power toothbrush to remove any remaining plaque and stains on your teeth.  This stage of the dental cleaning process can be quite loud.

4. Flossing! 

Now that your teeth are all shiny, a professional flossing of the teeth will be done.  It is during this step in the dental cleaning process where small chit-chat may be made about your flossing and brushing habits, what techniques may be beneficial for you to try, and if there are any areas of concern. 

5. Fluoride Treatment. 

The final step in the process is a fluoride treatment. This gel or foam will help protect your teeth from cavities and only takes a few minutes to complete. You may be asked which flavor of fluoride gel you would like. The fluoride is placed into a mouthpiece which is inserted over your teeth and is worn for 1-2-minutes.  Afterward, you will be asked to rinse your mouth out to remove any excess fluoride. 

Once the dental cleaning is complete, your dentist may perform a final examination of your teeth to check for other issues related to gum disease, bruxism, and any other oral abnormalities. Your dentist may want to examine any dental restorations you have, check for oral cancer, or address any concerns with your dental x-rays.

If you haven’t been to the dentist in a while or need to schedule a teeth cleaning appointment contact us or give us a call at (813) 333-1922.

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