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Routine Dental Cleaning 101

Even with a consistent at-home oral health regimen, it is important for your long term dental health that you visit us for a hygiene appointment every six months for a maintenance cleaning and checkup. Visiting the dentist office can emit feelings of stress and anxiety for many people, for fear of pain and discomfort.  Although it may be tempting to skip these visits or neglect to schedule them, making a point to keep your regular appointment will make a significant impact in your long term dental health.

Regular dental checkups and cleanings help in the following ways:

  1. Preventative Care: By seeing you and examining your teeth twice per year, our dental team can help watch for early signs of gum disease, oral cancer, decay, and other problems and deal with them accordingly.
  2. Professional Cleaning: The cleaning you receive by our dental hygienists is significant and helps keep your teeth rid of plaque that builds up in difficult-to-reach places on your teeth. Even the most diligent at-home regimens will miss places that the hygienist will not.

What can I expect at a routine dental cleaning?

The cleaning process is typically threefold:

  1. Remove Plaque/Tartar: The hygienist will use a scaler (a small metal instrument with a flat end) to remove tartar from your teeth around the gum line. He/she might also use an ultrasonic vibrating tool to free plaque and tartar from your teeth and then rinse it away with water.
  2. After removing the excess plaque and tartar from your teeth, the hygienist will then polish your teeth with a gritty paste to smooth the surface of the teeth and remove stains.
  3. Finally, once your teeth are sparkling clean from the polish, the hygienist will floss in between each of your teeth to ensure he/she has reached all areas in need of cleaning. You will finish with a quick rinse to remove any remaining debris in your mouth.

After your teeth are professionally cleaned, our dental team will examine your teeth for any changes since last visit to ensure you are free from decay and also check the health of your gums. We will be looking for any redness or swelling at the gum line and/or deep pockets, which are all signs of gum disease. Early detection and treatment will help save you from long term distress and expense.

In addition, we will likely perform an oral cancer screening. This will entail examining your neck, lymph glands, palate, and soft tissue within the mouth for any abnormalities.

For most patients, two cleanings/checkups per year are sufficient. If you are at high risk for gum disease or if you are dealing with other specific problems, we may recommend more frequent visits, perhaps every three months.

Overcoming the fear, anxiety, and even inconvenience of regular dental visits will help you keep your teeth and gums healthy. Your smile is worth it!


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