You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience.

Close [x]

Need to Schedule a Dental Cleaning? Here's What to Expect

dental cleaning

Why Do I Need to Get My Teeth Cleaned Twice Per Year

Have you ever wondered if twice-yearly teeth cleanings are really necessary? In addition to keeping your teeth sparkling clean, cleaning offers several other important benefits, including:

  • Fresher Breath. Cleaning removes food particles trapped between teeth, reducing breath odor.
  • Detection of Illnesses. The examinations your dentist and hygienist perform can provide valuable information about your health. The signs of several illnesses or conditions, including bone loss, osteoporosis, acid reflux and seasonal allergies, may first appear in the mouth.
  • Lower Heart Attack and Stroke Risk. Bacteria from a gum infection can travel through your bloodstream to your heart and brain. Since cleaning reduces your risk of gum disease, it also decreases your heart attack and stroke risk. After studying 100,000 people, Taiwan researchers discovered that people who received regular cleanings reduced their heart attack risk by 24 percent and their stroke risk by 13 percent.
  • Protection from Premature Births and Low-Birth-Weight. The same bacteria can also trigger premature labor or cause a low-birth-weight according to a research article published in the July - Dec 2010 issue of the Journal of Natural Science, Biology and Medicine.

Has it been a while since you have had a dental cleaning? Regular exams and cleanings help you maintain your oral health and keep your smile bright and healthy. Take a look at what you can expect during your next cleaning.

X-Rays First

Before your cleaning begins, the dental hygienist may take X-rays of your teeth. X-rays are usually taken once per year, but may be needed more often in some cases. This simple diagnostic test detects tooth decay, gum disease, bone loss, cysts, abscesses, defective fillings and other problems. If your hygienist or dentist notices an issue after reviewing your X-rays, he or she will take care to avoid irritating the area during the cleaning.

Review of Your Medical and Dental History

Before cleaning begins, your hygienist will ask if there have been any changes in your oral or general health, as some diseases can affect your mouth, teeth, gums and jaw. For example, if you have diabetes, your gums may bleed easily.

A Quick Examination

A brief examination helps the hygienist identify potential dental problems. He or she will use a small mirror to look for obvious signs of tooth decay, gingivitis, loose crowns and other issues. Although the cleaning can probably proceed even if problems are detected, in some cases, your dentist may recommend treating your dental issue first.

The Cleaning Begins

Dental cleanings remove both plaque and tartar from your teeth. Plaque, a transparent bacterial film that causes cavities, collects on your teeth every day. Brushing and flossing remove it, but it can be difficult to completely eliminate plaque from hard-to-reach areas. If plaque remains on your teeth, it eventually turns into a hard deposit called tartar that can only be removed with special dental tools. You may notice gray or brown spots on your teeth if you have tartar buildup.

If you have large tartar deposits, your hygienist may use a power scaler to clean your teeth. Ultrasonic power scalers use vibrations to break up and loosen tartar deposits. Any spots of tartar that remain can be scraped off teeth with a handheld scaler, an instrument that is curved to fit around teeth easily. If you do not have significant tartar buildup, your hygienist may only need to use a handheld scaler to clean your teeth.

The Finishing Step

Polishing helps remove any remaining specks of tartar from teeth. Because the polish is grittier than the toothpaste you use at home, it's also helpful in removing surface stains from teeth. The polish is applied with a handheld power device that features a small rubber cup at the end.

Protecting Teeth with Fluoride

Your cleaning may end with a fluoride treatment. Fluoride strengthens your tooth enamel and helps prevent cavities. Although the treatment is often used for children, it also offers important benefits for adults. The fluoride solution is brushed on your teeth or applied using trays that conform to the shape of your teeth. It's important to avoid eating or drinking for 30 minutes after you receive a fluoride treatment.

Is it time for your next dental exam and cleaning? Call us today to schedule your appointment.


Healthline: What Happens During a Teeth Cleaning

RDH: Breakin’ Time Down

Science Daily: Professional Dental Cleanings May Reduce Risk of Heart Attack, Stroke, 11/30/11

Journal of Natural Science, Biology and Medicine: Periodontitis: A Risk for Delivery of Premature Labor and Low-Birth-Weight Infants, 7 – 12, 2010

Our staff of dental professionals are dedicated to helping you achieve your dental wellness objectives. Thank you for subscribing to our dental wellness newsletter.

Go to top of page