A dental cleaning is one of the most important ways you can prevent tooth and gum disease while maintaining oral health throughout your life.
A dental hygienist will usually perform the bulk of your dental cleaning under the supervision of your dentist. Dental cleaning procedures usually take somewhere between 30-60 minutes.
Some services that may be provided during your dental cleaning include:
- A physical exam
- Removing plaque and tartar
- Gritty toothpatse cleaning
- Expert flossing
- Flouride treatment, if applicable
The first step a dental hygienist will perform is a screening and examination of oral health conditions and a review of oral health history. This usually consists of the dental hygienist looking around your mouth with a small mirror for signs of gingivitis, cavities, or other dental conditions. Your blood pressure and pulse may be taken. Plaque and tartar will be scraped away by the hygienist with a small hook-shaped instrument called a scaler. As plaque is left in the mouth, it hardens into the deposit known as tartar. The dental hygienist will use the scaler to scrape away those hardened deposits from the surface of the teeth and near the gum line.
After plaque and tartar have been removed from the teeth, the hygienist will deep clean and polish the teeth with a high-powered electric toothbrush and gritty toothpaste. This helps remove plaque and tartar left on the surface of the teeth after being scraped by the scaler. The dental hygienist will usually floss deep between the teeth. Flossing helps the dental hygienist complete the deep clean by removing any excess plaque in between the teeth. Bleeding during flossing helps the hygienist identify areas of the gum ridge that may be infected. After flossing, the hygienist will rinse your mouth with water to clear away any grit, toothpaste, or plaque leftover from the cleaning procedures.
Finally, the dental hygienist will apply a fluoride gel treatment to help protect your teeth from cavities. The fluoride gel or foam will harden into a varnish and is usually left in your mouth for a minute before being removed and rinsed out.
The dentist may consult with the dental hygienist about observations taken during the cleaning process and may request to have X-rays taken. The dentist often offers consultation about oral health, cleaning practices, and how nutrition can affect hygiene. These cleaning visits are primarily used as a method of preventive care. Regular dental visits can help deep clean the oral cavity, and maintain health.