Taking good care of your teeth is important for your health and your smile. Did you know that a good home care routine is only one part of taking care of your teeth, it’s also crucial to visit a dentist regularly for an exam and professional cleaning to ensure that your teeth and gums stay healthy? Let’s talk about what happens during a dental cleaning and why it’s important.
What is a Dental Hygienist?
When you go to a dental office for an exam and professional cleaning, your dentist will perform the exam, but a dental hygienist will be the one who cleans your teeth. A dental hygienist is someone who specializes specifically in cleaning teeth and gums. They are trained in spotting difficult to clean areas and using the special tools needed to clean along the gum line and remove tartar and stains to help restore your teeth to their brightest and healthiest.
Do I Need a Dental Cleaning?
It’s important to get a professional dental cleaning because even the best home care routine doesn’t always thoroughly reach every area of your mouth and gum disease and cavities can develop unnoticed. Regular dental cleanings will help to prevent challenging areas from becoming problematic and along with a regular exam and x-rays can greatly help to reduce the occurrence of both tooth decay and gum disease before it becomes serious.
What Should I Expect During a Professional Cleaning?
You may be surprised to learn that what happens during a dental cleaning is quite a bit different than your home care routine of brushing and flossing.
During a professional cleaning, a dental hygienist will usually first begin by scraping off any tartar build up on the surface of your teeth, between your teeth and along the gumline, focusing extra careful attention around dental appliances like braces, retainers or dental bridges. Removing tartar build up may also remove visible stains from your teeth because the rough surface of tartar is often what stains adhere to, not the actual slippery surface of your tooth’s enamel.
After cleaning all the surfaces of your teeth, the dental hygienist will usually floss and polish your teeth with a special polishing tool to leave your teeth looking their most sparkling.
During the cleaning, it’s also common for your dentist to perform an exam. This may include x-rays of your teeth and jaw to uncover any problems on the inside of your teeth or beneath the gums that might not be visible from the surface. They may also measure your gums along each tooth to keep track of any signs of inflammation that can lead to gum disease or erosion if left untreated.
What happens during a dental cleaning typically doesn’t cause discomfort, but if your gums are extra tender or you have a cavity that’s sensitive, let your dentist or hygienist know so that they can be extra careful or apply a numbing agent to help if any discomfort occurs.
How Often Do I Need a Cleaning?
Dental cleanings are typically recommended every 6 months, or more often if you suffer from conditions like gingivitis or periodontitis, so if it’s been longer than 6 months since you’ve last seen your dentist, you’re most likely due. Talk to your dentist at your next appointment about how often a dental cleaning is appropriate for you and they can help you put together a schedule for important regular care including dental cleanings.
Call our Traverse City Dental Office to make an appointment with a dentist who may be able to help you find out more about this topic, and improve your oral health.