You’re headed to a well recognized dental office for your first visit in a long time; one of the most important things that’s going to happen during the visit is the cleaning! The cleaning is done by a dental hygienist, a professional trained primarily to do this incredibly important part of your visit to the dental office. To understand why it’s so important, and what exactly is being done, it’s good to understand the actual procedure.
The hygienist is going to start by looking at your mouth with a tiny mirror to see if anything looks unhealthy; they’re looking for signs of gingivitis or other evidence they might need to consult with a dentist before proceeding; there are health problems that might need to be addressed before the cleaning can continue. They’re also looking to find all the tartar they can. Tartar is a type of hardened plaque that can’t be removed with regular brushing; that’s why the hygienist is here!
Getting rid of that tartar is tough, but not impossible with the tools in the hygienists arsenal. They use a small metal tool called a scaler to scrape the tartar off of your teeth. This portion of the exam makes some folks feel uncomfortable; let the receptionist know before the cleaning if scaling causes you discomfort, and communicate any discomfort with your hygienist for a more pleasant cleaning experience. There’s a scraping noise that can occur, and this makes some folks uncomfortable; feel free to bring headphones to your appointment so you can play some music and drown out the sound!
The next part of your cleaning is done with a high-powered electric brush and some gritty toothpaste; basically an amped up version of what you’d do at home! The reason this procedure isn’t available for home use is that regular high-powered brushing may damage the enamel, while once or twice a year at the dentist is sufficient to make sure your teeth look their best with regular brushing. Again, the whirring sound from the brush can make some folks uncomfortable; if that’s you, keep those headphones in!
The whole thing is finished off with a few nice touches; a professional flossing, rinse and fluoride treatment. You might floss at home, and this will be like getting a shampoo done at a hair salon; you do it yourself, but it feels great when the pros get it done. For those who don’t floss at home – please, please start flossing, it’s good for you. Start with even once a week! Anything helps. After the rinse (which feels amazing), you’ll get the fluoride treatment, which can come in a variety of flavours, for the kid in all of us.
There might be some discussion pre or post cleaning, depending on what’s been observed, about your oral health with your dentist. You might get x-rays done to make sure everything is looking good, you might get cavities filled, you might have any number of other oral health problems that have come up – but don’t worry! You’re in good hands.