A girl on a dentist chair smiles at the camera. Behind her, a male dentist and female dental hygienist smile while wearing blue masks.

Maintaining good oral hygiene is crucial for overall health, and regular dental cleanings are a key component of this. While daily brushing and flossing are essential habits, they are not sufficient on their own to prevent all dental issues. Professional dental cleanings provide a deeper clean that can remove plaque and tartar buildup, detect early signs of gum disease and cavities, and ensure your teeth and gums stay healthy. This blog post will explore the steps involved in a typical dental cleaning and highlight why these visits are so important for maintaining a bright and healthy smile.

Why are Dental Cleanings Important?

While cleaning your teeth at home is important to prevent future issues, professional cleanings can go that step further in catching the early stages of gum disease and cavities to help you maintain a healthy smile. At-home dental care, including regular brushing and flossing, is essential for removing daily plaque buildup and maintaining good oral hygiene. However, even the most diligent home care routine can miss areas where plaque and tartar accumulate, particularly in hard-to-reach spots. 

Professional cleanings performed by a dental hygienist are designed to thoroughly clean these areas, using specialized tools and techniques that go beyond what can be achieved with a toothbrush and dental floss alone.

Steps in a Dental Cleaning 

Maintaining oral health is essential, and professional dental cleanings play a vital role in achieving this goal. The process is comprehensive, starting with a thorough physical examination and continuing through several critical steps to ensure your teeth and gums are in top condition. Here’s a breakdown of the steps involved in a typical dental cleaning, each designed to address specific aspects of oral hygiene and prevent future dental issues:

Step One: Physical Exam

Your dental hygienist will start your dental cleaning by doing a physical exam, using a mirror to examine your teeth and gums for any signs of gum disease like gingivitis, cavities, or other visible concerns. If any major concerns are spotted, they may call in the dentist to check and ensure it’s safe to proceed with the cleaning or if another treatment may need to be scheduled or performed. 

Step Two: Removing Plaque and Tartar 

Once they’ve examined your teeth and gums, your dental hygienist will use a tooth scaler and a mirror to remove the plaque and tartar that sits at the gum line and between your teeth. It’s normal to be able to hear the scraping as they do this, though you should not feel any pain. This process will take longer if you have more tartar in your mouth, whether you’re naturally predisposed to excess build-up or haven’t had a professional cleaning in a while.

Regularly brushing and flossing is the only way to stop plaque from hardening and becoming tartar. If you’ve already developed buildup, it can only be removed with a professional cleaning. That’s why prevention through regular teeth cleaning at home is critical.

Step Three: Gritty Toothpaste Cleaning 

The hygienist will use a special electric brush to brush your teeth, which makes a grinding noise. This process and toothpaste work together to remove any excess tartar, which may be left behind from the scaler, but the noise may be loud. If you’re anxious about getting your teeth cleaned, let the hygienist know, and they can warn you before they start.

Professional cleaning uses a toothpaste that has a gritty consistency that will scrub between your teeth. It usually smells (and tastes!) like regular toothpaste, but sometimes you can choose a flavour to individualize the experience. These polishings can be done safely twice a year but aren’t recommended for at-home teeth care because regular usage will wear down your enamel.

Step Four: Expert Flossing 

While you should still be flossing regularly on your own, your dental hygienist will be able to reach deeper between your teeth and any trouble spots where you find it hard to reach. This may cause your gums to bleed slightly, but it shouldn’t be painful. They’ll remove any leftover plaque or toothpaste from the rest of the procedure while also getting out anything that’s been stuck in your teeth for a while without you noticing!

Step Five: Rinsing 

The rinse is a simple, straightforward process. The dental hygienist will give you a liquid fluoride rinse to swish around and spit out to remove any debris that was loosened during the flossing or any of the other prior steps of the procedure.

Step Six: Fluoride Treatment 

Finally, there’s a fluoride treatment. This will add a protective coating to your teeth that will help fight against cavities for a few months following your cleaning. You may get a choice in flavour for your fluoride treatment. The dental hygienist will put the foaming gel or sticky paste into a mouthpiece. They will fit it into your teeth, where it will be left for one minute. 

The hygienist will then use a small brush to paint a fluoride varnish onto your teeth, which will harden when it comes into contact with saliva. Thus, you’ll be able to eat and drink right away.

Other Important Factors to Consider With Dental Cleanings

Now that you know what steps to expect when you show up to your dental cleaning appointment, what else should you consider when booking your appointment or when thinking of your overall oral health?

At Costello Family Dentistry, we understand dental anxiety is a common issue for many patients. We offer sedation dentistry for those who suffer from severe dental anxiety so that you can maintain your oral health without worry. It’s best to talk to your dentist about your specific concerns, as they may be able to work with you to create a plan that minimizes any stress so that you can keep on top of your dental health.

Why Getting Your Teeth Cleaned is Important

Regular professional dental cleanings are indispensable for maintaining optimal oral health. While daily brushing and flossing are fundamental, these cleanings go further by addressing plaque and tartar buildup, preventing gum disease, and catching cavities early. Each step, from the initial examination to the fluoride treatment, is meticulously designed to ensure your teeth and gums remain healthy and vibrant. 

At Costello Family Dentistry, we know that regular visits not only help maintain a beautiful smile but also play a crucial role in overall health. So, prioritize your dental appointments, follow your dentist’s personalized advice, and address any dental anxieties to keep your oral health in peak condition. If you’re ready to book your cleaning or have any questions about your cleaning appointment, contact us today, and our expert dentists will be happy to help you.

Dr. Shahrooz Yazdani

Dr. Shahrooz Yazdani

Dr. Shahrooz Yazdani has helped to restore the smiles and self-confidence of countless clients since opening Yazdani Family Dentistry in 2001. As CEO and Director, he has amassed thousands of hours of comprehensive training and real-world experience in his decades-long tenure. Dr. Yazdani is deeply passionate about his work, family, and making the most of life itself.

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