When it comes to teeth cleanings, knowing what to expect can help many adults and children overcome some of the fear often associated with dental visits. Let’s take a look at the steps you will experience during a teeth cleaning here at Weninger Dentistry.
- A physical exam is performed, and x-rays are taken if scheduled or needed. One of our two dental hygienists will begin with a visual examination of your mouth. A small mirror helps them see around the back and sides of teeth to look for signs of decay or gum disease. If they uncover anything particularly troubling, they may bring in the dentist before beginning the cleaning. X-rays are not always needed at regular check-ups and cleanings. Your dentist will establish the right time frame for x-rays based on your teeth and dental history.
- Cancer screenings are part of the physical exam at Weninger Dentistry. Patients will also be educated on what changes to look for at home. Any lesions, whether white or red, should be watched. The mouth has a tremendous ability to heal, so if you have any sores, protruding tissue masses, irritation, or hoarseness that do not heal in about two weeks, it is time to discuss it with your dentist. This healing time includes healing that happens on its own or due to treatment.
- Removing plaque and tartar is usually the lengthy portion of the exam. A scaler is a little tool that looks a bit like a hook. Using a small mirror, they scrape plaque and tartar from the gum line and the hard to reach spaces between teeth. Tartar is calcified plaque, and as such, is more difficult to remove. It may take awhile to scrape the tartar, so if you wish to avoid time in the dentist’s chair later, brush and floss more often.
- Cleaning with gritty toothpaste is the next step. Once the tartar is removed, an high-powered electric brush is used to clean the teeth. You get to choose the flavor of the gritty toothpaste. This is only done twice a year to polish teeth and remove all debris, but do not replicate at home. Too much of this good thing can wear enamel down.
- Flossing is done by the experts. Even if you floss daily, doing so during the in-office cleaning can serve a couple of purposes. The dental hygienist may uncover questionable spots and bleeding. Plus, anything that snuck in the tight spaces between teeth during the cleaning cannot hide from an expert flosser.
- Gum evaluations help the dentist determine if periodontal disease is a factor. Swollen, inflamed gums can happen for many reasons, so it is important to figure out why. Also, receding gums leave the roots exposed and often cause sensitivity.
- Rinse. The hygienist will usually use a fluoride rinse to help remove any leftover debris from the first six steps. Depending on the patient’s age, a fluoride varnish or gel treatment may follow.
Prevention is the best defense against tooth decay and gum disease. Proper oral hygiene at home makes your in-office teeth cleanings a breeze. At Weninger Dentistry, we believe in empowering patients with knowledge.