Dental Cleaning



Getting your teeth really clean requires a visit to the dentist. Plaque and tartar are always accumulating and building up on your teeth. Although brushing and flossing will remove most of it, only a dental cleaning (also called prophylaxis or prophy for short) can help remove all of it. Once the process is completed, your teeth will feel very clean and will even look a little whiter. 

Although some patients are afraid of going to the dentist for various reasons, there really is no need to fear dental cleaning. This procedure does not require any anesthesia because there is no drilling or surgery involved. It only treats the outside of the teeth, making them cleaner, brighter, and shinier. 

There are several steps involved, which are explained below, but they are all simple procedures. If you still have fear, the dentist can give some anesthesia to help you relax. The anesthesia types range from very light to what is called twilight sedation, depending on your level of fear. 

In spite of the fear, if that is preventing you from getting a dental cleaning, it is still very important for the health of your mouth and teeth. Regular dental cleanings are also much cheaper than if you let dental problems go since that means that they only get bigger and more expensive to treat.

What to Do Before a Dental Cleaning

While it is only natural to want the dentist to see your teeth in their best condition, there are some dos and don’ts involved before going to the dentist for a dental cleaning appointment. They include the following:

  • Don’t brush your teeth – Even though most people do brush their teeth before going anywhere, this is one time you want to skip it. By doing so, it will enable the dental hygienist to see what spots you are missing. You will be informed of where they are, which will enable you to do a better job in the future. 
  • Don’t whiten your teeth beforehand – You also want to avoid this step before going for a dental cleaning. Any plaque or tartar on your teeth during a teeth whitening could cause your teeth to end up not being uniformly white. Not whitening them will also enable the dentist to see where cavities and other problems may be developing on your teeth.
  • Don’t make an appointment when sick – Getting a dental cleaning when you are sick is not a good idea. The cleaning process may enable bacteria to enter into your bloodstream through the gums. This will cause it to spread through your body. People who have weak immune systems, or are immunocompromised, are at a greater risk of getting bacteremia – a serious infection. It will usually not bother people that are healthy.

What Happens During an Oral Cleaning?

Several steps are involved in oral cleaning. Each of them is rather quick and will only take a few minutes. They include:

  1. A physical exam

The first step the dental hygienist will do is to take a look around your mouth, gums, and teeth. He or she will use a mirror to be able to see everything. Your mouth will be checked for sores and unusual tissue formation. This includes an oral cancer screening. Be aware that some dentists may skip the screening unless you ask for it. Oral cancer spreads rapidly and is nearly painless in the early stages, but a dental hygienist and dentist can spot it during a dental cleaning. If you are a smoker or have other risk factors, be sure to get the screening. Other things looked for include cavities, gum disease, and other problems with the teeth. 

  1. Removal of plaque and tartar

Once the physical exam has been completed, the plaque and tartar will be removed. The plaque can be easily removed, but a special tool called a scaler is needed to remove any tartar. Tartar, which is hardened plaque, forms above and below the gum line. It must be removed because harmful bacteria love to hide in it and will cause gum disease.  

  1. Gritty toothpaste cleaning

In the next step, the dental hygienist will apply gritty toothpaste to a special high-powered brush. The brush is electric and a slight grinding noise can be expected while in use.  

  1. Expert flossing

This step will give you the best flossing you have ever had. It will remove everything that is still stuck between your teeth. It will be more thorough than you could do yourself. 

  1. Rinsing

Rinsing your mouth out with water when the flossing is complete will remove any debris and other particles in your mouth. 

  1. Adding a fluoride treatment

After your teeth have been thoroughly cleaned, a fluoride treatment will help ensure that your teeth stay strong. It will last for a few months. The fluoride liquid or gel will be put into a mouthpiece that fits over your teeth. It will be left on for about a minute. Some dentists may also apply a fluoride varnish to your teeth, which will harden when it comes in contact with saliva. 

What to Do After a Dental Cleaning

Once the dental cleaning is finished, your teeth will feel great. They will be very clean but it is not unusual if they are a little sensitive, too. You can reduce sensitivity by using desensitizing toothpaste. The sensitivity should only last about a week. 

  1. Get another appointment for 6 months later 

Before leaving, make an appointment with the dentist for your next teeth cleaning six months later. Six-month appointments really are the best frequency to be able to adequately take care of your teeth. Regular appointments let the dentist spot problems early and treat them before they become major problems.

  1. Apply the dentist’s advice

After your dental cleaning, you will likely be given some advice to help you improve your personal dental care. These tips should be followed carefully to keep your teeth in the best shape.


The discovery of a cavity or other dental problem during a teeth cleaning may lead to an x-ray. It will enable a dentist to see the roots of your teeth to determine how deep a cavity goes or if there is another problem present. It will also be necessary if you have considerable gum disease. The dentist will be able to determine whether or not there is any bone loss from the disease.

Gum Tissue Evaluation

If gum disease is discovered during teeth cleaning, it will be looked at and evaluated. The presence of gum disease means that you have a potential threat to the soundness of your teeth. The main cause of gum disease is a lack of good care of your teeth, which is brushing twice a day and flossing. Early-stage gum disease, gingivitis, can start an immune reaction in your gums.

This reaction is caused by bacteria naturally found in your mouth getting into your gums. It will attack your gums, the structures that support your teeth, and your jaw bone. It is the main cause of tooth loss in adults over 30 in the United States. 

If the dentist finds that you have gum disease, it will need to be treated. Normally, good oral care can remove gingivitis. Once it progresses to become periodontitis, you will need a dentist to help you. Depending on the severity of the disease, deep cleaning may be needed.

Deep Cleaning

Deep cleaning teeth is also called scaling and root planing. This is a non-surgical process used to clean out the bacteria from pockets that have formed on the gums. The bacteria and inflammation will be removed from the pockets and the rough places on the tooth roots will be smoothed with teeth scaling to prevent the bacteria from easily starting a new colony. 

Dental cleaning is part of a healthy program of preventive oral care. You can get teeth cleaning, as well as scaling and root planing from Dr. Kumar T. Vadivel, DDS, FDS RCS, MS, a Board Certified Periodontist. He provides dentist teeth cleaning and a wide range of dental services in his Champion Dental office in Farmers Branch, TX. Most dental insurance plans are accepted. To set up a consultation or to get more information about the dental cleaning procedure, you can contact his office at (214) 747-0763.

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