If your mother told you prevention was better than cure, she might have been referring to your dental health. Brushing and flossing twice a day are important, but it takes more than that to really give you good oral health. A regular dental cleaning by a dental hygienist can make all the difference in the world. It will not only leave you with whiter teeth, but will also help protect you against gum disease and all the complications it can cause. Here’s what happens during a professional teeth cleaning, and what the various steps are for.
Physical Dental Exam
Most types of dental cleaning are done by hygienists, who are also qualified to perform a physical examination of your mouth. The dental hygienist typically uses a small mirror to view the inside of your mouth, checking around the teeth and gums for inflammation or any other problems. If they see any signs of cavities or failed crowns, they might call the dentist to take a look before continuing with the cleaning. Often, the exam will also include oral cancer screening, which may be done with an instrument that uses blue light or a dye.
Removal of Plaque and Tartar
One of the most important parts of a regular dental cleaning is the removal of plaque and tartar. This is most commonly performed using an ultrasonic scaling device, which breaks up the tartar, plaque and biofilm. These are then flushed away from the surface of your teeth with a jet of water. If necessary, the hygienist might also use a manual scaler to get rid of stubborn spots.
After your teeth have been thoroughly cleaned and all the built-up deposits removed, it’s time to polish them. This is usually done with a tiny rubber cup, which spins on the end of a hand-held wand. Before polishing your teeth, the dental hygienist scoops up some abrasive toothpaste called prophy paste onto the cup. He (or she) applies the prophy paste to your teeth, and the spinning of the cup polishes your teeth and removes stains. The paste, which comes in a range of flavours and consistencies, starts out gritty and breaks down into finer grains as it polishes. This part of the process might leave your teeth feeling slightly sensitive, but any discomfort usually disappears within a few hours.
Flossing and Fluoride
After rinsing your mouth, the dental hygienist will floss your teeth. Even if you do this regularly at home, there’s no comparison between your daily flossing and a professional version. The flossing also helps to remove any remaining plaque or polishing paste left over from the cleaning process.
The final step is a fluoride treatment, which helps the teeth absorb minerals and protects them against cavities for the next few months. This might come in the form of a foamy gel or a paste that is squeezed into a tray that fits over your teeth. After a minute, the dental hygienist will remove the tray and apply fluoride varnish with a brush.
Of course, this entire process only applies during a regular dental cleaning that requires no additional treatments. If either the dentist or the hygienist discovers any potential issues in your mouth, they may halt the cleaning until you’ve had these attended to.
For more information on having your teeth cleaned professionally by our dedicated team, call our dental clinic in Surrey BC and schedule your appointment today.