Perhaps you consider yourself as having excellent oral hygiene habits, you brush twice a day for two minutes each day with a fluoride toothpaste and you never miss a day of flossing. Your smile is looking and feeling great – so why do you still need to go to the dentist for a routine cleaning?
The truth is that even the most skilled and diligent patients miss hard-to-reach places on their teeth. If plaque hardens on your teeth and forms calculus, only your dentist can remove it. Your professional dental cleaning is much more extensive than your independent oral hygiene routine at home.
Here are three important steps in a cleaning performed by your hygienist or dentist:
- Scaling: This procedure uses a scaler tool to remove hard calculus and tartar buildup. Scaling can be carried out by a manual scaler or an ultrasonic scaler, which uses powered vibrations and a stream of water to break up and wash away hardened tartar deposits.
- Polishing: This step ensures you leave the dental office with a shiny clean smile. Polishing utilizes a handheld tool with a spinning rubber head. Your hygienist will polish all surfaces of your teeth to remove minor stains and provide a smooth surface to repel plaque and oral bacteria.
- Fluoride: Typically, the final step of your cleaning will be a fluoride treatment. This is an essential mineral that strengthens your tooth enamel, making it more resistant to acid attacks and decay. Fluoride treatments can be administered using a rinse, gel, foam or varnish.
Remember that the above steps are confined to the cleaning portion of your dental checkup. You can also expect your dentist to exam your gums for signs of gum disease as well as provide an oral cancer screening. If it is time, a quick and painless digital x-ray may also be taken before you leave.
If you are a “gold star” dental patient, keep up the good work – but don’t forget that you still need a professional dental cleaning every six months. Most dental insurance plans cover preventative dental care each year, so scheduling your routine exams will maximize your coverage and your smile!
Posted on behalf of Dr. Paul Gilreath IV,