Routine dental checkups typically consist of teeth cleaning. During teeth cleaning, the dentist aims to remove tarter, plaque, and stains that have accumulated on the surface of the teeth. While daily brushing and flossing can significantly help to reduce tarter buildup, only a professional teeth cleaning session can maximize your oral hygiene health. Most dentists recommend having your teeth professionally cleaned every six months. During your teeth cleaning session, here is what you can expect to happen.
Scaling is often the first step in the teeth cleaning process. During scaling, your dentist will use a handheld tool to remove hard calculus from tooth surfaces. If the amount of calculus is minimal, a manual scaler will typically be used to remove deposits of tarter by simply scraping them off. For larger amounts of tarter, the dentist may use an ultrasonic scaler, which is an electronic scaler that removes larger pieces of tarter using a gentle vibration, coupled with a stream of water.
Tooth polishing consists of polishing the tooth surface with a prophy cup, a small, rubber motorized cup attached to an abrasive polishing compound. The main goal of polishing teeth is to make it more difficult for plaque to accumulate on the tooth surfaces, due to its new smooth texture. Polishing also gives the teeth a shiny, clean look, and can help remove any unsightly surface stains.
Once your teeth have been scaled and polished, your dentist may recommend a fluoride treatment. Fluoride is a mineral that helps to strengthen the enamel, or outermost layer of teeth, which is crucial in resisting acid attacks that contribute to tooth decay. During a fluoride treatment, the dentist will apply the fluoride solution, which is usually a gel, rinse, or varnish. To make the application of fluoride more pleasant, it comes in a wide range of flavors, such as mint, cherry, strawberry, and chocolate.
In the majority of cases, teeth cleaning sessions are fast and painless. Professional dental cleanings help to reinforce healthy oral health care routines at home, and provide the dentist with an opportunity to locate areas in the oral cavity that need special attention. Due to the painless nature of teeth cleaning, no anesthetics are needed, and the cleaning session is usually over in less than an hour. During your dental cleaning, educational advice may be given to ensure that you’re properly caring for your teeth at home.