Periodic teeth cleaning by a dental professional is an important element of oral hygiene, along with proper home care. Find out what happens during a typical dental cleaning, and the purpose of each step.
Professional teeth cleaning is a necessary part of every preventive oral hygiene routine and vitally important for good dental health. While dental visits may cause anxiety in you or your children, in most cases, professional teeth cleaning is simple and painless, and serves to prevent serious problems further on.
The highly trained family dentists and dental hygienists at Tuxedo Dental Group are gentle and reassuring, with a focus on making your cleaning visit as pleasant an experience as possible. A dental cleaning appointment typically lasts 45 minutes to an hour. To be relaxed and prepared before your next visit, read about what happens during a professional teeth cleaning.
How often should I get my teeth cleaned?
The recommended frequency of professional teeth cleaning is different from one patient to the next, considering factors such as age, genetic risks, medical circumstances, and your overall oral health. The average person is typically fine receiving two cleanings per year, six months apart (as recommended by the Canadian Dental Association). Someone with no dental issues and stable oral health may get by with only one visit to their dentist every nine to 12 months.
However, those who are prone to higher plaque and tartar buildup, or in the beginning stages of periodontal disease, sometimes need to receive professional cleanings as often as every three months. At Tuxedo Dental Group, we make sure to recommend the most efficient frequency for your optimum oral health, based on our professional evaluation.
Why do people need dental cleanings?
Regular dental cleanings ensure the continued health of your teeth and gums by removing plaque and tartar buildup that can cause damage over time. They also give your dentist the opportunity to examine your mouth to identify potential issues early, such as tooth decay, gum disease, or oral pathology , as well as noticing any chips, cracks, or discolouration that can affect the appearance of your smile.
Ongoing oral care, both at home and at the dentist’s office, is not only important for your dental health, but also helps to support your overall well-being. Studies have shown that many serious illnesses are correlated to chronically poor oral hygiene, including heart disease, stroke, autoimmune conditions, and diabetes. It’s not only about your mouth!
Receiving a dental examination
First, often even before the cleaning itself, your dentist will inspect your teeth and gums using a small mirror and sometimes other instruments to check for signs of tooth decay, infection, gum disease, impacted teeth, and oral cancer, among others. They will also evaluate the condition of any previous restorations, including implants, crowns, fillings, root canals, dentures, etc.
Healthy adults with good oral care habits and no cavities or other problems may generally require x-rays only every two years. If it has been a while since you last had x-rays taken, if you have developed recent issues, or if your dentist has noticed cause for concern, the dentist may also recommend the need to take x-rays during your exam.
Removing plaque and tartar
A professional cleaning helps eliminate plaque and dental calculus (tartar) from the teeth. Plaque is a sticky, bacteria-containing film that continuously coats the teeth. This bacteria releases acids following the consumption of food or beverages that can destroy dental enamel and cause cavities and gingivitis (gum disease).
Plaque typically calcifies into a hard layer of tartar—composed of calcium phosphate mineral salt deposits—which forms a shield protecting bacteria on the teeth. This dental calculus builds up between and around teeth, both above and below the gum line, allowing the bacteria to further inflame the gums, which may lead to periodontal disease over time, if the tartar is not removed regularly.
Dental calculus can only be removed with a special instrument called a scaler that lets the hygienist scrape the hardened material off your teeth. It is normal to feel pressure and hear a scraping sound as he or she does this. In cases where there is too much buildup or the beginnings of gingivitis (first stage of gum disease), a dentist may recommend returning for a more complex periodontal scaling and root planing procedure, which is a deeper cleaning that can help reattach gums to teeth and prevent bone loss.
To reduce the risk of serious problems in the future, it is important for children and adults to brush and floss consistently, at least twice a day.
Gritty toothpaste polishing
Once the tartar has been scraped off, your teeth will be polished using a special toothpaste with a slightly gritty consistency. This procedure gently scrubs teeth to polish off any remaining stains or plaque deposits, leaving your teeth feeling smooth and clean!
Flossing and rinsing
Following that step, the hygienist will usually apply dental floss in between your teeth, to remove any leftover debris or toothpaste. If a patient needs pointers on flossing, this is a good time to ask questions and get a demonstration on the best technique for effective plaque removal with floss.
Applying fluoride treatment
Finally, some patients may require a protective fluoride treatment to complete the cleaning process and help shield teeth from forming cavities. In this case, a foaming gel or paste is placed into a mouth tray and left on your teeth for one minute. A fluoride varnish might also be applied onto the teeth afterwards. Younger children may be provided with dental sealants as a form of cavity risk reduction on their newly formed adult molars.
Oral hygiene instruction
During your appointment, the dentist and dental hygienist will provide you with advice on brushing techniques, flossing methods, or other specialized products tailored to your unique circumstances. They can also answer any of your questions related to oral hygiene care products, such as mouthwashes, electric toothbrushes etc.
After the dental cleaning is largely complete, the dentist will often perform an examination. Dental examinations are tailored to each patient’s needs based on factors such as age, genetic risks, medical circumstances, and your overall oral health. Be sure to report any specific problems or discomforts to your dentist for further investigation. Also, if you are a first-time patient at that office, you may be asked about your general medical history.
The dentist will visually inspect your teeth, gums, and supporting tissues using an angled mirror to identify signs of cavities, sores, or other abnormalities behind and in between your teeth, as well as visible indications of potential gum issues, such as redness or swelling. You may be asked to bite down normally, so the dentist can inspect the alignment of your teeth and jawbones while looking for evidence of clenching, grinding, or clicking that may indicate problems.
If there are any signs of periodontal disease (gingivitis or periodontitis), the dentist may measure around the teeth below your gum line (periodontal pockets) to determine how deep they are. Additional tests may be run in order to establish a diagnosis for any dental conditions based on her or his observations and the reading of any x-rays.
What happens next
If any issues are identified during the examination, such as bleeding gums or tooth decay, you will likely be asked to make a follow-up appointment for treatment. Remember, the sooner you get treated, the fewer problems you will have later. If no problems were discovered, you need only schedule your next cleaning with us at the recommended interval.
Are you due for a teeth cleaning in Winnipeg?
Regular dental cleanings are the best way to keep your mouth healthy, along with a proper home oral hygiene routine. When was the last time you or a family member had their teeth cleaned by a dental professional? Perhaps it is time to book an appointment with the expert dentists at Tuxedo Dental Group. We look forward to seeing you soon!