Your regular teeth cleaning should ideally happen every six months and gives your dentist a chance to identify any oral health issues you may have before they have a chance to disrupt your smile. During your regular teeth cleaning, you’ll work with both your dentist and a dental hygienist—a licensed professional who helps clean your teeth—to ensure your teeth and gums are healthy and get a professional teeth cleaning.
But what exactly happens during your appointment? Here’s what you need to know to be prepared for your regular teeth cleaning!
An Exam of Your Oral Cavity
First, if you need x-rays, your dentist may suggest to do these before your cleaning. Generally, x-rays are taken once a year for patients. X-rays are needed to identify any potential decay between your teeth, which dentists can’t spot with the naked eye.
Next, your dental hygienist will examine your smile, looking for signs of gum disease, tooth decay, or other problems in the oral cavity, such as a damaged dental restoration. Your dentist will do an oral cancer screening, which is a painless screening that involves checking the face and oral cavity for any abnormalities. Your dentist will also ask you a few questions about any symptoms you may be experiencing. Oral cancer screenings are typically done once a year .
After checking your mouth for any potential problems, your dental hygienist will then use a tool to remove plaque and tartar from your oral cavity. While regular brushing and flossing at homes helps remove plaque before it has a chance to turn into tartar, it’s difficult to remove all the plaque from your mouth. Your dental hygienist will remove plaque or tartar from places you may have missed or places that are hard for you to reach.
Plaque and tartar not only increase your risk for gum disease, but can make it more difficult for you to properly clean your teeth . This scraping process shouldn’t be painful and generally only takes a few minutes.
Cleaning Your Teeth
After scraping plaque and tartar away, your hygienist will then use a paste similar to a toothpaste, but a bit more abrasive, to polish your teeth. While not the same as a professional teeth whitening, this polishing process can remove surface stains to make your teeth look brighter .
Once your teeth are cleaned, your hygienist will floss your teeth. This may feel a bit different than the flossing you do at home—your hygienist will do a thorough job to ensure all plaque is removed from your gumline and in-between your teeth. Finally, your mouth will be rinsed out and you’ll be all set!
When Did You Last Get Your Teeth Cleaned?
While every patient is different, a general guideline to get a professional teeth cleaning is every six months. When was your last professional teeth cleaning? If it’s been longer than six months, it’s time to call your dentist!