Some love the slick feeling of their teeth after a teeth cleaning. Others put off their regular dentist visits because they dread the experience.
Even when brushing and flossing twice a day, food particles and plaque can hide in nooks and crannies. If it’s been more than six months since you’ve found yourself in a dental chair, here’s a reminder of why teeth cleanings are necessary, plus what to expect at your next appointment.
- A dental cleaning is pretty simple. First, a hygienist will do a physical exam of your mouth. They’re looking for inflammation of the gums (gingivitis) and for cavities. Cavities can look like a black or brown spot, a small fracture, or a hole in a tooth.
- Second, the dentist or hygienist will use a small tool called a scaler to get rid of plaque and tartar from your teeth manually. It’s common to have at least some buildup, even with the best at-home hygiene habits. They may even use an ultrasonic scaler, which break up the tartar with vibrations and water. It’s important to have the tartar buildup on your teeth cleaned. The presence of dental plaque can lead to heart disease, arterial blockages, and stroke, and tartar can lead to gum disease.
- Once the stains and tartar have been removed, your dentist or hygienist will use a tool that squirts water into your mouth to rinse the particles away. A wand with suction is used to remove the excess water and debris out of your mouth.
- Finally, the hygienist can offer to polish your teeth. If you choose to polish your teeth, they will be brushed with gritty flavored toothpaste. The final step of the cleaning is a good, thorough flossing.
After you visit the dentist for a cleaning, give yourself a reward. Whether it’s a pat on the back or a new pair of shoes, rewarding yourself for facing a not-so-comfortable situation should be acknowledged. Preventive care will keep your smile healthy. It also helps control your health care costs by resolving any buildup before it becomes a more serious issue.
For information on finding a dentist and scheduling your next cleaning, click here.
Note: These procedure descriptions cover what is typically involved in a procedure; actual methods may vary by dental office. To understand exactly what your next dental appointment will entail, reach out to your dental office for a pre-appointment discussion.