A professional dental cleaning is one of the pillars of twice-annual dental check-ups. In addition to your daily oral care routines, these cleanings help you maintain healthy dental hygiene and ensure your smile is at its best! 

What can you expect during your professional tooth cleaning? For most patients, a professional cleaning is a painless and straightforward process. Still, it can bring up challenging emotions like anxiety or apprehension. While you may feel like you’re in it alone, these emotions are common: as many as 60% of dental patients have reported experiencing dental phobia that ranges from mild to severe. 

One way to combat dental anxiety is to learn what a dental visit will likely include. Here at Rhoades Family Dentistry, we want you to feel comfortable as you walk into your dental appointment, fully prepared for what your professional dental cleaning will entail. In order to bolster your confidence, let’s discuss four steps in a professional dental cleaning process. 

1. Physical exam 

Before any actual cleaning begins, a dental professional will physically examine the entirety of your mouth. First, they will lean your chair back so that they have an unobstructed view of your mouth. Keep in mind that they will wear gloves for the duration of this process, and may also wear a headlight and/or turn on a brighter overhead light to help with their visibility. If you are sensitive to light, sunglasses are available to help shield your eyes from any additional lighting. 

The dental professional will also use a small mirror to help them see your gums in greater detail; if there are any signs of gingivitis or other significant concerns, a conversation may take place between dental professionals before they continue. This ensures your dental hygiene is in a condition that is ready for cleaning, and to make sure that you won’t experience any pain during the process. 

2. Plaque and tartar removal 

While still using the small mirror as a guide, the dental professional will begin to use a tool called a “scaler” to get rid of any plaque or tartar that has built up along your gum line or in between your teeth. You will likely hear some scraping noises during this process, but this is entirely normal. Don’t be alarmed if your dental hygenist scrapes longer on one tooth than another: more build-up means more scraping is needed. It’s as simple as that. 

One way to reduce the length of this step is to improve your at-home dental hygiene routine to more regularly brush and floss your teeth. Less plaque build-up leads to less hardened tartar, which means this step can move much more quickly. 

3. Cleaning, flossing, and rinsing 

During this step, your dental professional will use a high-powered electric brush – combined with a toothpaste that is grittier than the kind you use at home – to brush your tartar-free teeth. This brush tends to be the noisiest step in the professional cleaning process. Still, the only sensational difference between at-home brushing and this step is that the toothpaste has a different consistency. This toothpaste is purposely grittier so that it can gently scrub your teeth in a way that you can’t quite achieve at home. 

This step also includes a very in-depth flossing session. If any gum inflammation was noted earlier in the cleaning, this is another opportunity to locate any potential trouble spots. A symptom of this inflammation is often a small amount of bleeding, so don’t be alarmed if that happens for you. It will all wrap up with rinsing to ensure that any remaining toothpaste and other debris has been washed away. 

4. Fluoride treatment 

There are multiple types of fluoride treatment, including a foaming gel, a sticky paste, and a varnish that can be painted onto your teeth individually. Each version has a slightly different texture, but all require a little bit of time to pass for the treatment to harden in place and begin to do its job. 

Regardless of which form is used, this step helps to protect your teeth and fight against cavities for multiple months to come. While this is often the shortest step in the process, it can have the longest-lasting effects by giving you a fighting chance to return to your six-month follow-up appointment with no cavities in sight. 

Looking for a cleaning in the Kansas City Metro?  

One of the best steps you can take for your dental hygiene and overall oral health is to make appointments to visit your dentist every six months consistently. These regular checkups will include a professional clean and the opportunity for you to ask any questions or note any concerns. You should ask if they provide emergency dentist services, and find a practice that does if they don’t. This way you will know exactly where to go if faced with a dental emergency.

Connect with the Rhoades DDS team today to begin tackling your dental anxiety head on, and taking control of your dental hygiene.