October is National Dental Hygiene Month! In order to celebrate, we’re going to be talking about dental cleanings and why they’re important. We’ll break down all of the benefits that come from regular cleanings and what you should expect when having your teeth professionally cleaned.
Teeth cleaning, also known as a dental prophylaxis, is the removal of plaque and tartar from teeth with scaling. When scaling the teeth, built-up debris on the surface of the teeth is scraped off with hand instruments or ultrasonic tools. Regular teeth cleanings every six months are an excellent method to prevent future tartar build-up on teeth which can cause mouth issues such as tooth decay and gum disease.
There are many benefits to regular teeth cleanings, including:
- Your dentist will be able to identify any cavities or infections early on before they get worse
- Your dentist will also be able to better prevent tooth decay and gum disease since dental cleanings allow them to remove excess bacteria from the surface of your teeth
- Teeth cleanings also provide an opportunity for your dentist or hygienist to check the soft tissues in your mouth for signs of oral cancer
- Decreases the risk of tooth loss
- Prevents the need for costly dental treatments in the future
- Benefits your overall health
What to Expect When Having Your Teeth Cleaned
A brief examination of your teeth and gums is the first step in getting your teeth cleaned. A tiny mirror will be used to examine around your teeth and gums for indications of tooth decay or gum disease during this exam. In certain situations, dental x-rays may be required.
Removing Plaque and Tartar
A dental hygienist will begin the cleaning process by removing plaque and tartar from your teeth’s surface. There are a variety of different dental instruments that may be utilized, such as a metal scaler or an ultrasonic water scaler. You can expect the scaling process to include the entire front and back of all your teeth, as well as the area where the teeth meet the gums.
Once all the large pieces of plaque and tartar have been scaled off, the next step is to apply a gritty toothpaste to the teeth. A special toothbrush or polishing device will be used to gently grind the surface of your teeth to remove any smaller particles of debris. This process is safe, however it should never be performed more than twice a year or without a dental professional.
The next step is to have your teeth professionally flossed by a dental hygiene specialist. This lets your hygienist find areas that you may be missing during your normal flossing procedure. It also ensures that any remaining debris is removed from between the teeth. You can also use this opportunity to get tips on your flossing technique.
Your mouth will be thoroughly rinsed with liquid fluoride as a last resort to guarantee that all plaque, tartar, and toothpaste are removed.
The final component of every teeth cleaning is a fluoride treatment. This might be a foamy gel or sticky paste in trays that is applied to the teeth. It is typically flavored and only stays on for a few minutes. A fluoride varnish is then applied to your teeth before you leave. Because it makes the enamel stronger and more resistant to plaque development, fluoride is one of the most important components of preventing dental problems.
If you want to keep your teeth in the best shape possible, be sure to go in for regular cleanings every six months. These cleanings will allow your dentist to examine your teeth, remove plaque and tartar, and prevent future dental issues. It is also helpful to make sure that you brush twice a day for two minutes each time and floss once per day.
Dr. Alina Huang has been practicing dentistry in Manhattan for the last eight years. She was born in New York City, and raised in California where she received her Bachelor’s degree at UCLA, and her D.D.S. at the University of the Pacific in San Francisco. She then made her return to NYC where she completed her General Practice Residency at Montefiore Medical Center and has been working in private practice ever since. She continues her learning by attending courses to stay current with the latest advancements in dentistry and refine her skills.