Every school kid learns the importance of basic oral hygiene. A regular brushing and flossing regimen is the foundation of a lifetime of dental health. And while that foundation is vital, there are some important dental procedures that can’t be done at home. Chief among them are regular cleanings—think of it as letting a dentist or dental hygienist deep clean your teeth and gums while giving your whole oral cavity a checkup. A regular cleaning coupled with your daily care can help keep your mouth healthy and happy, giving you a lifetime of strong teeth and a brilliant smile. With that said, let’s address some of the most common questions: what happens during a cleaning? How often should you have one? What should you expect during and afterward? We’ll go over these one at a time, and end by telling you how you can schedule your next cleaning with BlueWave Dentistry.
The Basics of Cleaning Teeth
The particulars of a cleaning will depend on your own oral health, your particular needs, and your dentist’s recommendations, but the following should give you a good idea of what to expect when you’re in the chair:
- A basic oral exam: a cleaning is a good time for your dental hygienist to give your teen and gums a medical inspection. Generally this won’t take too long; they’ll just use a dental mirror to look for any signs of gingivitis or other infections, cavities, or tooth decay/damage. If your dental hygienist detects a problem, they may call in the dentist to take a look and decide on a course of action. If not, they’ll proceed to the cleaning.
- Removal of tartar and plaque: using a small dental mirror and a tool called a scaler, the dental hygienist will gently remove tartar, plaque, and other invasive material from your teeth and gums. How long this takes depends on the amount of those materials in your mouth, and you may hear some scraping sounds but don’t worry—that’s normal. They’ll periodically rinse and suction your mouth to remove the debris, but that shouldn’t cause any discomfort.
- A cleaning with gritty toothpaste: it is what it sounds like—the dental hygienist will use professional grade gritty toothpaste to brush your teeth and remove what plaque or tartar may remain. Despite its name it is a fairly gentle process, essentially a professional version of what you do when you brush your teeth at home. When they’re finished, they’ll rinse your mouth again to clear everything away. Again, none of this is scary and it shouldn’t cause any discomfort.
- A fluoride treatment: we won’t lie, this is the part that might taste a bit icky to some people. After the rest of the cleaning is complete, the dental hygienist will put a foamy fluoride gel into a mouthpiece, fit it over your teeth, and have you hold it there for a full minute. Then they’ll remove it and give you one final rinse. Fluoride treatments protect your teeth from cavities for several months, and are a real help between cleanings. You may get a choice of flavor, and as before nothing about this procedure should cause any pain or discomfort.
There may be additional steps, depending on your individual situation and the diagnosis made by your dentist or oral hygienist, but this should give you a pretty good idea of what to expect and hopefully remind you that this is a fairly easy and painless procedure.
Where and How Often?
Now that we’ve gone over what to expect, let’s talk about how often you should have your teeth cleaned. For most people, dentists will recommend an bi-annual cleaning in order to best maintain oral health and find or prevent any potential problems with your teeth and gums. Coupled with good at-home care, this is generally sufficient to maintain oral health. There are some exceptions however. If you’ve gone a while between cleanings or have some heavy plaque and tartar build-up, your dentist might recommend more frequent cleanings to help correct the issue. Likewise if the exam portion of the cleaning discovers any additional problems, further care may be necessary. Your dentist will let you know what’s going on, what they recommend, and explain everything to you if the time comes, so don’t worry.
While having your teeth cleaned is an important step in maintaining your dental health, there are other important procedures you may need. From regular checkups to aesthetic and restorative dentistry, BlueWave Dentistry offers a full line of services and treatment plans tailored to the needs of each patient. For any further questions or to make an appointment, get in touch with us today.