A routine dental cleaning isn’t so different from a routine dental exam, since it’s all about ensuring your teeth and gums are healthy. However, while you’ll receive a teeth cleaning during a regular exam visit, a cleaning visit will allow the dental hygienist more time to spend on you and your mouth.

It’s suggested that in addition to your regular dental exams, that you also come in for a regular cleaning about twice a year. If you have a good daily routine for cleaning your teeth at home, you may be able to afford coming in just once a year. However, with new studies coming out about adults today and their abysmal daily care of their teeth, it’s very likely that you and your family should schedule a dental cleaning right away.

So, what goes on during a dental cleaning visit? Even if you’re scared of going to the dentist, like many American adults today, you’ll find that it’s a simple and almost painless experience, and of course, necessary for your overall health — not just oral.

  1. An initial exam
    A dental hygienist will introduce themselves to you, as generally teeth cleaning is performed without a dentist. However, in a physical exam, the hygienist will use a small mirror and visual inspect your teeth and gums to see if there are any dire issues, in which then a dentist will be called in. Once the initial exam is complete, the hygienist will move on to the next step.
  2. Removing plaque and tartar
    Everyone develops plaque, even if you brush your teeth daily. Plaque is a thin film of bacteria that can build up on the small crevices between your teeth and gums (hence why flossing is important). If plaque isn’t addressed early, then it becomes tartar, which is essentially a hardened, calcified form of plaque, and it makes your teeth look yellow. Plaque can eventually lead to periodontal diseases and gingivitis if you don’t clean your teeth often.The hygienist will use a metal tool called a scraper, which is used just how it sounds — the tool will scrape away plaque and tartar build up. Tartar is hard to remove with common cleaning tools like toothbrushes and floss.
  3. Polish and cleaning
    Once the hygienist is done scraping away, they’ll use an electric toothbrush that will polish your teeth’s enamel. This procedure should definitely not be done at home, as polishing incorrectly can ruin rather than help your enamel. It’s safer with professional guidance. Polishing will remove any remaining stains, and help your teeth to achieve that pearly whiteness so many of us want!
  4. Flossing
    If you already floss at home, you might think this is something you could skip at a dental cleaning, but having a professional floss your teeth is always a good idea. First, the hygienist might see problem areas that you may not have been able to identify on your own. Second, this helps to remove any remaining debris from the cleaning process earlier. Keep in mind that while you’re getting a flossing procedure during your cleaning, you should still learn how to floss correctly at home.
  5. Rinsing and fluoride treatment
    You know how during a car wash, near the end you’ll get streams of water to rinse off the soap, but then there’s also a last bit of sealant or wax that’s applied at the very end? That’s similar to how this step works. After the hygienist rinses your mouth, clearing it from all the soap and debris, you will get a fluoride treatment, or dental sealant, to help protect your teeth from future build-up. Like almost all sealants, this isn’t going to prevent your teeth from plaque 100%, but it’ll be a great line of defense to help fight against additional bacteria.

After all that is said and done, your hygienist will clean up the work area, and sit down with you about any issues they saw during the cleaning, and discuss a thorough at-home cleaning routine for you to commit to. If you haven’t had a digital x-ray of your teeth in a while, this may be suggested to you. X-rays will look under the hood to identify any potential issues beneath your enamel or gums — essentially, places where the naked eye can’t see.

Ready to make your next cleaning appointment with our Long Beach dental office? Schedule online here or call us at 562-434-6414.