At Edward D. Dallam, DDS, we recommend you come in every six months for a thorough cleaning to remove plaque and bacterial deposits that you can’t reach with your toothbrush or floss.

Teeth cleanings are sometimes dreaded. Many people fear the dentist and it’s easy to understand the apprehension. But the truth is: for most people a teeth cleaning is simple and painless. Knowing exactly what is going on during the process can help ease your stress and allow you to better enjoy the minty fresh, clean results.

Steps involved in a standard dental cleaning:

Step 1: An Exam

Teeth cleanings are performed by a dental hygienist. Before the actual cleaning process begins, they start with an exam of your entire mouth. The dental hygienist uses a small mirror to check around your teeth and gums for any signs of gingivitis (inflamed gums) or other potential concerns.

Step 2: Removing Plaque and Tartar

With the small mirror to guide them, the dental hygienist uses a scaler to get rid of plaque and tartar around the gum line, as well as in between the teeth. You’ll hear scraping, but this is normal. The more tartar there is in your mouth, the more time is needed to scrape a particular spot.

We brush and floss to stop plaque from building up and hardening into tartar, which you can only remove at the dentist’s office. So if this is your least favorite part of the teeth cleaning process, the lesson is to brush and floss more often.

Step 3: Toothpaste Cleaning

After your teeth are completely tartar free, the hygienist brushes them with a high-powered electric brush. They make that infamous grinding noise. While it sounds scary, it’s a great way to get a deep clean and remove any tartar left behind from the scaler. Plus, the process is gentle and there’s nothing to be scared of!

Professional cleanings use a toothpaste that smells and tastes like regular toothpaste, though you can choose between different flavors. However, it has a gritty consistency that gently scrubs your teeth. You don’t need to be scrub your teeth when brushing at home, as you’ll wear down the enamel. This occasional polishing is deemed safe only at the dentist’s office twice a year.

Step 4: Expert Flossing

Whether you floss regularly at home or not, nothing beats an expert flossing session! Your dental hygienist can get deep in between your teeth and locate any potential trouble spots where you might bleed at the gums.

This might seem pointless if you floss at home, but having a professional floss your teeth also removes any leftover plaque or toothpaste from steps two and three.

Step 5: Rinse

Next, you will rinse out your mouth to get rid of any debris. Your dental hygienist will usually use a rinse that contains liquid fluoride.

These steps basically sum up the dental cleaning process. In few cases additional steps are required. Whether you need any additional step or not, the key is to keep going back to the dentist for regular teeth cleanings to prevent problems altogether. By understanding what is going on in advance, you’ll feel more at ease and maybe even look forward to these important appointments.