No one loves coming to the dentist for a cleaning, but understanding what happens during your appointment makes the process much simpler. Perhaps you think that because you brush and floss your teeth are perfectly fine and do not require cleaning. Seeing the dentist for a twice-yearly cleaning is about more than just keeping your teeth white. It’s about keeping your gums healthy, detecting potential issues early on, and treating issues before they become a problem.
Your oral health has a lasting effect on your overall health. You might not think that skipping out on a cleaning is a big deal, but it can have a negative effect on much more than just your teeth. Dental issues such as gingivitis, for example, are easily treated with routine cleanings. However, if you skip your appointments and your gingivitis worsens, your health might worsen. People with gingivitis and other gum disease are more likely to develop heart disease and/or give birth prematurely. Not only does your health now suffer because you skipped out on the dentist, but your baby’s health also suffers.
Regular cleanings are much more imperative than you might realize. We want our patients to know that we are here to help keep you healthy as well as keep your smile looking good. Know what to expect might make it easier for you to come into the office and see us, and that’s what we want you to do.
The first step in any teeth cleaning is an exam. This is typically done by a dental hygienist, or a person who attends school for the specific purpose of working with teeth. The hygienist you see uses a small mirror to look around. The purpose is to check for inflamed gums, which is a sign of gingivitis, as well as other dental health issues. This is absolutely routine, and it does not hurt at all.
Once the hygienist has checked for other issues, he or she will use the same small mirror in addition to a scraper to remove any plague or tartar on your teeth. If you brush and floss your teeth regularly, you shouldn’t need to have this done. It’s not painful, but you can hear the scraping. That’s an issue for some patients, but you can always ask for music or even wear your headphones to drown out the noise if this is a problem for you.
Brush and Floss
Now that your teeth are free of plaque, your dental hygienist will use a rather gritty toothpaste and a high-powered brush to clean your teeth. We cannot promise you will enjoy the flavor, but we can promise isn’t the worst flavor in the world. The sound is the worst part of the entire brushing process, but it’s not something you cannot overcome.
Now that you have an expert cleaning your teeth, you’re also getting them flossed. Your dental hygienist can see far down in between your teeth to areas you might miss when you do your own flossing. She will then go through your mouth with floss and clear out those spaces for a nearly perfect clean. Following that, she will use a little air vac and a water dispenser to rinse out your mouth. It is a bit loud, but it does not hurt as she sucks the moisture out of your mouth.
Now that you know what to expect, seeing the dentist twice a year isn’t as intimidating. Every cleaning varies based on the patient’s health, but you might expect a slight variation from time to time. For example, we do perform X-rays once a year unless we see a reason for a second set during your next visit. We also take additional steps if we find any issues in your mouth such as cavities or other oral health issues.
Your oral health is important to your overall health, which is why your visits are so important. Do yourself a favor and see the dentist twice a year at least. It’s going to help you far more than you realize, and it’s nowhere near as painful as you might assume.