Everyone needs regular dental cleanings regardless of how thorough your oral hygiene routine is. These regular visits to the dentist’s office give your dental professional ample opportunities to detect issues like gum disease, tooth decay, and oral cancer before things get out of hand. But what happens during a dental cleaning?

A professional cleaning helps you get rid of tartar. Tartar is hardened plaque, and it provides shelter for living oral bacteria. Oral bacteria turn sugar into acid, creating cavities and gum disease.

Dentists typically recommend two dental cleanings per year, but people who are already dealing with issues like gum disease should get their teeth cleaned more frequently, perhaps every month. A routine cleaning session also involves an examination, meaning your dentist will keep an eye out for other issues.

Here is a closer look at what you should expect when you set an appointment for a dental cleaning.

What to Do Before a Dental Cleaning

A dental cleaning is a simple procedure, and you don’t have to do much to prepare for it. Make sure you’re keeping up on your regular oral hygiene. Then brush your teeth before your appointment. Your dentist will do more cleaning, but a quick brush helps remove debris and lets your dentist focus on more serious cleaning.

If you have questions or concerns, write them down or record them in a note app on your phone. During your appointment, it’s easy to forget your questions, so take this paper or your phone in with you so you remember to ask them. Your dentist will also prompt you by asking about your concerns, and then you can pull out the paper or the phone.

The Professional Cleaning

During the appointment, the dentist will provide you with an apron that you can use to protect your clothes from any stains. Once in place, the dentist will begin to scrape tartar off from your teeth below and above the gum line. Your dentist might also decide to use an ultrasonic vibrating device to break up tartar on your teeth, then rinse it off with a jet of water.

After removing all the tartar and stains, the dentist will polish your teeth with an abrasive paste. In some cases, the dentist may use floss to clean the space between your teeth. Polishing the tooth makes it more difficult for plaque to accumulate before the next cleaning. It also helps your teeth feel clean and healthy. And it can remove surface stains so your smile shines brighter. However, if you’re still unhappy with the color of your teeth, you can ask about teeth whitening.

Your dentist will then apply a fluoride treatment on your teeth. This protects them from cavities for months. The treatment will usually consist of a gel or paste on a mouth guard that you wear for a minute or so. Your dentist might also decide to use a fluoride varnish to give you an extra layer of protection.

The Examination

Once your teeth are all nice and clean, your dentist will conduct an examination. In the past, dentists always used a metal probe and angled mirror, but now we use many different types of equipment. The goal is the same: we are looking for any signs of tooth decay. Your dentist will also check for any issues with your gums like deep pockets, redness, and inflammation.

Your dental professional will also look for signs of temporomandibular joint disorder by taking a close look at your upper and lower jaw. He/she will take a close look at the soft tissues in your mouth, palate, lymph glands, and neck looking for signs of oral cancer. One person dies from oral cancer every hour in the U.S., yet it is completely curable when detected early. When in doubt, ask your dentist if he/she looks for signs of oral cancer during examinations. You can also ask your dentist for tips on how to perform monthly oral cancer screens on your own at home.

During the examination, your dentist might end up touching your palate – which can trigger your gag reflex. Keep that in mind so that you can keep it under control. If you have a strong gag reflex, let us know and we can suggest strategies to combat it.

Still Nervous About Making an Appointment?

Hopefully, understanding what a teeth cleaning involves can ease any anxiety you might feel about making your next appointment. However, if you’re still anxious and are avoiding getting care, we have a solution: sedation dentistry. Sedation dentistry is sometimes called sleep dentistry, but it doesn’t make you sleep. Instead, you are awake and can see and hear everything that’s happening around you. You can even hear and respond to questions and directions. But it makes you less nervous and concerned about the procedure.

In addition, sedation dentistry can help with other things that might make a dental visit unpleasant. It can calm a strong gag reflex, make it easier for you to get numb, and make it more comfortable to sit in the dental chair. Plus, it’s perfectly safe when used appropriately. If you are interested in sedation dentistry, let us know and we will let you know if you’re a good candidate.

Overdue for a Cleaning in South Beach?

Ready to get your dental cleaning? Schedule an appointment with a South Beach dentist at SoBeDentist today.