It's normal to have a bit of dental anxiety, but it may be greater than usual if it's been a few years since you scheduled a routine cleaning. Knowing what to expect can help set your mind at ease so that the visit is pleasant rather than stressful.
1. Oral Exam
The visit will begin with an oral exam. This is a non-invasive and primarily visual examination. Your dentist will use a dental mirror and a small pick to check your teeth and gums for signs of infection or cavities. They may also take X-rays, especially if it's been a while since your last visit. Minor issues like developing cavities will be noted for extra care, but usually won't interfere with the cleaning. More severe cavities or infections may require treatment before the cleaning can be scheduled.
2. Scale Removal
Scale refers to the buildup of tartar, which is also called plaque, on the teeth and just under the gumline. Your dentist or hygienist will use either a descaling tool or a special Waterpik to remove most of the residue. This part is important, as the presence of tartar increases the chances of developing cavities and gum disease. Although scale removal can be loud, there is usually minimal discomfort.
3. Final Cleaning
The final cleaning can vary depending on your specific hygiene needs, but it generally includes a thorough brushing with an electric brushing tool. This is followed by a very thorough professional flossing that will remove any loosened tartar that is still stuck between the teeth. Finally, your mouth will be rinsed and checked one last time to make sure no tartar was missed.
Polishing makes your teeth appear brighter and cleaner. It's the part of the cleaning that helps make a beautiful smile. A rotary polishing tool and polishing paste are used to buff your teeth to an even shine. Polishing can be loud, but it's not painful or invasive. The process of polishing also removes any residue that remains from the plaque removal and professional flossing.
5. Fluoride Treatment
The final step is a fluoride treatment, which is optional but highly recommended. It's especially necessary if you live in a region that doesn't have fluoride in the water. A fluoride gel is first applied to your teeth and allowed to set for a short time before being rinsed off. This is followed by the application of a fluoride varnish, which is left in place. You will be advised to avoid eating and drinking for a short time following the treatment.
Contact a dentist in your area to schedule your cleaning today.