Step-by-Step Guide to Professional Dental Teeth Cleaning
Taking care of your teeth requires diligence and consistency with at-home oral care routines, as well as sticking to the recommended schedule of professional checkups at your family dental clinic. During these checkups, your dentist will go through a series of steps to thoroughly clean your teeth in a way you just can’t do at home. If you’ve ever wondered what a professional tooth cleaning includes, this guide will help explain the process.
There’s just something about the way your teeth feel after a checkup at the dentist that simply makes you feel good. Even if you’re using the best toothbrushes and water flossers that money can buy, it’s just not the same as that ‘fresh from the dentist’ feeling. How do they do it? Well, aside from years of training, specialized dental tools, steady hands, and a gentle touch, dentists and dental hygienists follow a very well-defined process for thoroughly cleaning your teeth.
Now, each dentist office may have a slightly different approach to how they perform a dental checkup and tooth cleaning treatment. Because of this, we feel that it’s important for patients to be informed about what’s included in a typical dental checkup, and what you can expect when you come in to get your teeth cleaned at the Georgian Dental clinic in Barrie. Let’s go through the typical process of a dental checkup and tooth cleaning treatment, step by step.
Before You Arrive at the Dental Clinic for Your Tooth Cleaning Appointment
This may surprise you, but your dental appointment begins before you even arrive at the clinic! To prepare for your visit, your dental hygienist and dentist will review your dental records. During this review, it will be determined if it is time to obtain new x-rays or dental imaging scans, as well as identify any past dental repair work that should be examined closely. Examples of this are such things as fillings, dental bridges, dental crowns, dental implants, or any other type of previous dental work.
The dentist’s workstation will also be prepped for your visit, with a fresh set of tools and supplies that will be used in your examination and cleaning treatment. The area will have been cleaned and sanitized to provide a hygienic environment for each patient. In addition, for patients who experience high levels of anxiety during dental visits, sedation may be brought in upon request to provide relaxation and relief while the tooth cleaning treatment is performed. If you are interested in learning about what types of sedation may be available to you, we have more information available here on Sedation Dentistry, or don’t hesitate to give us a call to speak with one of our dental professionals.
Open Discussion with Your Dentist or Hygienist
Once you arrive at our clinic you will be greeted by one of our friendly receptionists, and your dental hygienist or dentist will come to direct you to your treatment area. As you get comfortable in the dental examination chair, we will take some time to have a discussion with you. We will ask how your health has been since your last visit, if there are any changes in your teeth or mouth we should be aware of, or if you have any specific questions or concerns. If there’s anything that has been causing you discomfort, or is out of the ordinary with your teeth or mouth, it’s best to let us know about it.
This is also the time to let us know of any new medications you may be taking or health conditions you are experiencing. While these may not be directly affecting your dental health, there could be related factors to consider that would necessitate a different approach in your dental treatments in order to avoid any potential complications. Some medications have shown to increase the likelihood of developing certain types of dental health conditions, so it’s essential to be aware of the possible side effects and take steps to mitigate them.
The main reason for this discussion is rooted in Georgian Dental’s holistic approach to dental care. Holistic dentistry looks beyond the teeth and considers all the different factors that influence our health, as well as how the health of the mouth influences our greater state of well-being. Diet and lifestyle play a critical role in determining how healthy our bodies are, and that includes our mouths. For example, tobacco use in particular has many harmful health effects, such as increased risk of gum disease and oral cancer, and can even lead to lost teeth. We are committed to the health of our patients, so that means that our staff will also provide helpful advice regarding nutrition and lifestyle that can have significant positive benefits to your dental health, as well as to your general well-being.
Oral Examination to Evaluate Dental Health Condition
After this collaborative discussion, your exam will begin. Starting with a visual oral examination, your hygienist or dentist will take a very close look at your teeth, gums, tongue, cheeks, throat, and lips. They will identify any abnormalities that warrant a more detailed examination, such as discoloration of the soft tissues and of the teeth, lesions or sores, lumps or swelling, or other possible signs of dental health problems.
Particularly close attention will be paid to any areas where past dental work was performed. This is to determine if any degradation of these restorative treatments has occurred since your last visit. If any areas are shown to need repairs, they will be documented and your treatment options will be reviewed with you. In some cases, the repair may be done during your visit, however in most situations a follow-up visit will be scheduled for this purpose.
The teeth themselves will be physically inspected using a dental probe, sometimes known as a sickle probe or a dental explorer. This tool allows the dentist to check the integrity of the teeth, explore the spaces between the teeth, and get a better view in the pockets of the gums. Along with the dental probe, a mouth mirror will also be used to obtain visibility to the hard-to-see back teeth and other areas not easily seen. The mouth mirror is also used to help keep your tongue out of the way during the exam, or to gently pull back the cheeks and lips when needed.
Tooth Descaling to Remove Soft Plaque and Hard Tartar
After the initial examination is complete, the dentist or hygienist will begin the process of cleaning the teeth using a tool known as a scaler. Scalers are metal instruments that are specifically designed to remove sticky plaque and stubborn tartar that builds up on the teeth over time. While most plaque can be removed by brushing and flossing at home, there are some areas where it can be really hard to reach yourself. Gradually, this plaque will harden into tartar, which can only be removed with a scaler by a professional dentist or hygienist.
It’s of utmost importance to remove plaque and tartar regularly to prevent a wide range of dental health problems, such as foul breath, tooth discoloration, and gingivitis. If left untreated, the bacteria that cultivates and multiplies in plaque and tartar can lead to more serious health conditions, such as infections of the gums and periodontitis (also known as gum disease).
As the plaque and tartar are removed during the cleaning process, your hygienist or dentist will frequently wash the areas of the mouth using a water jet tool to rinse away the loosened material. This material and the rinse water will then be removed from the mouth using a suction device. The tip of the suction device is called an ejector stick, which will often stick to the cheeks and tongue of the patient, producing a sensation that many patients find amusing.
Tooth Polishing to Remove Stains and Whiten the Smile
Once the teeth have been cleaned and the built-up plaque and tartar are gone, the next step of the treatment will be to polish each of the teeth to clean away stains and improve their overall whiteness. Polishing the teeth is done with a soft-tipped mechanical tool and a special dental polishing compound. This compound scrubs the teeth to remove surface stains caused by food and drink, and polish the teeth to a smooth finish. This polishing compound is essentially a professional-grade toothpaste, and is often available in a few different flavours for the patient to choose from.
Tooth polishing also removes additional bacteria that may remain on the surface of the teeth, leaving the patient with fresher breath and a cleaner mouth. At the end of this stage, the dentist or hygienist will then floss the teeth to remove any remaining particles in between the teeth and in the gum pockets. Then, the patient will be instructed to rinse their mouth with water or an antibacterial oral rinse, which will be spat into a nearby sink, leaving their mouth sparkling clean.
ZOOM Tooth Whitening for an Even Better-Looking Smile
Even with a professional tooth cleaning, it’s possible that your teeth may still not be as white as you’d like them to be. This is because there are some stains that go deep into the tooth enamel that just won’t come off with a professional polishing treatment. Some people are simply more prone to deep tooth staining, and there are certain types of food, drink, and lifestyle habits that can be far more noticeable in their staining effects on the teeth.
In cases like this, it may be recommended that a ZOOM whitening treatment be performed. It’s not a standard part of a normal dental hygiene appointment, but it offers a much more dramatic tooth whitening transformation than normal polishing can provide. To learn more about what ZOOM tooth whitening can do for your smile, we suggest you contact Georgian Dental today to arrange for a no-obligation consultation. It’s amazing how white your teeth can look with this innovative whitening treatment!
Fluoride Treatments to Strengthen and Protect Teeth
After the polishing has been completed and the patient’s mouth is perfectly clean, the final step is to apply a strengthening fluoride treatment that will reinforce the enamel of the teeth and provide greater protection against decay. Fluoride treatments occur regularly during childhood, typically on an interval of about 6 months, as children are generally at high risk of tooth decay and cavities. Fluoride treatments should also continue throughout adulthood, although these would be done according to the recommended schedule as determined by your dentist for your specific needs.
Fluoride can be applied in different ways, depending on the method the dentist prefers to use in their clinic. Sometimes, mouth trays are used to contain fluoride in the form of a gel or paste, and then held in place inside the mouth for a short period of time so the fluoride can transfer into the tooth enamel. For many of us, this is likely how we most commonly remember having our fluoride treatments when we were younger.
Alternatively, many dental clinics have recently adopted a different method of applying fluoride treatments in the form of a brushed-on compound that dries on the teeth and remains on after the patient leaves the clinic. Over the span of 3-4 hours, the painted-on fluoride works to strengthen the enamel of the teeth, during which time the patient can eat or drink as usual. They are simply instructed to not brush their teeth until the 4hrs has elapsed, as this can remove the fluoride prematurely and reduce the effectiveness of the treatment. This method is far more convenient for the patient, and certainly easier for the dentist as well.
Regular Dental Cleanings are Essential to Strong and Healthy Teeth
The entire professional tooth cleaning process is done for a singular purpose; to ensure the strength and good health of the patients teeth. There’s no better way to ensure that your teeth look great, stay healthy, and keep you smiling than having regular dental checkups and thorough cleaning treatments at your family dental clinic.
If you’re due for your next tooth cleaning, or perhaps are new to the Barrie area and are looking for a family dentist, contact Georgian Dental today. Our team of friendly staff will be glad to schedule your visit at your convenience, and help you keep your smile in style with professional tooth cleaning treatments. We look forward to seeing you soon!