Protecting your most valuable asset—your smile—through regular teeth cleanings can have it last a lifetime. You probably take excellent care of your teeth at home with daily brushing and flossing, but by visiting your dental hygienist and dentist at least twice a year, they will be able to remove built-up plaque and tartar that cause cavities and gum disease. Your hygienist and dentist will also be able to identify smaller problems before they become bigger and painful problems.
Why Is Teeth Cleaning Your Teeth Important?
Your teeth cleaning appointment is the most important appointment to make and keep in order to maintain optimal oral health. Periodontal disease is the number one cause of tooth loss in adults in America. Having your teeth cleaned at least twice-yearly enables your hygienist and dentist to diagnose small conditions before they worsen and become painful and expensive. Your teeth cleaning appointment also provides an opportunity to discuss any concerns you may have about your oral health or how to look after your teeth at home.
What Should I Expect at My Teeth Cleaning?
Your teeth cleaning appointment begins with your hygienist updating your x-rays. Then your hygienist (or dentist) will take measurements around your teeth and gums identify areas where there are deep pockets. Next, your teeth are cleaned using precision instruments and techniques to gently remove plaque and tartar, paying particular attention to areas between your teeth and along your gum line where gum and decay-causing bacteria tend to hide.
As your hygienist or dentist clean your teeth, they will be looking for areas where home brushing and flossing needs to improve. They will also guide you to develop your techniques, so your teeth and gums stay healthier from one visit to the next.
A special fluoride paste is used to polish and remove stains from your teeth, bringing out their shine and smooth feel. Once your hygienist is finished cleaning your teeth, your dentist will come in and interpret the updated x-rays. Then your dentist will do an oral cancer screening, which consists of an extra-oral and intra-oral soft tissue exam followed by thoroughly and carefully examining all of your teeth and gums. Your dentist and hygienist will make recommendations based on your dietary habits, what they see on your x-rays, and what they find during your cleaning and exam.
Does Getting My Teeth Cleaned Hurt?
Most patients report little to no discomfort during their teeth cleaning. Many patients have commented on how “it was the gentlest cleaning” they have ever had! However, for patients who have not been maintaining their regular cleanings or do not adequately brush or floss at home, the process can be a little bit uncomfortable. If you are nervous about visiting the dentist and know you will experience discomfort, then your hygienist can numb your teeth and gums before cleaning to make you comfortable.
We know many patients have anxiety when it comes to visiting the dentist and therefore postpone coming in for their teeth cleanings and exams. As a result, small issues turn into big and expensive treatments. Our goal is to give you a relaxed and comfortable experience, and we work hard to make sure you are taken care of.
What Is the Correct Way to Brush and Floss?
We recommend you brush your teeth in the morning and brush and floss your teeth at night right before jumping into bed. Using toothpaste with fluoride, such as Crest, Colgate, or Sensodyne, will fight against decay-causing bacteria.
- Place the head of your toothbrush on your teeth, then aim the bristles 45 degrees toward your gumline.
- Move the brush in a circular scrubbing motion.
- Brush the outer surfaces of all teeth, making sure to keep your brush angled against your gumline.
- Next brush the inner surfaces of all teeth, making sure to keep your brush angled against your gumline.
- Be sure to brush the inside surfaces of your front teeth near your tongue.
- Lastly, scrub the top surfaces of all your back teeth.
Plaque causes cavities, gum disease, and bad breath. The only way to remove plaque from between your teeth is to floss (or use a water flosser).
Here is how to floss:
- Use a piece of dental floss about 1.5 feet long. Wrap each end of the floss around your middle fingers.
- Hold the floss by using your thumb and index fingers, leaving about an inch of floss. Use a gentle back and forth motion to guide the floss between your teeth. This method prevents “snapping” the floss into your gums which can lead to discomfort.
- Bring the floss below your gums, making sure it disappears. Curve the floss around each tooth and use a gentle back and forth and up and down motion to sweep the teeth.
- Repeat this procedure on both sides of each tooth.
- If you notice bleeding while you floss and brush, please see your hygienist and dentist immediately.
A Final Word from Dr. Trung Phan
Throughout your teeth cleaning appointment, you may have questions that are not covered above. We will make sure to answer all of your questions and make sure you are comfortable during your teeth cleaning appointment. We love getting questions from our patients! Our goal is to help you preserve your natural smile for a lifetime because your smile is your best asset.