Posted by Dr. Julie Boudreault On 21-06-2019
One thing people with strong healthy teeth and gums share in common is a strong oral hygiene regime supported by regular dental checkups at least once a year. This is the dynamic duo of dental health as it provides the daily care you require in hand with professional cleanings that remove all of the plaque and tartar that regular flossing and brushing can’t reach.
However, there is more to a cleaning appointment than you might think. It is an important time to provide diagnostic and preventative services as well as keeping you well educated on how you can improve your oral hygiene care at home. Here is an overview of what you can expect during your routine cleaning and dental checkups.
Keeping Dental Cleanings Simple
One of the important things we like to remind our patients is that although you might want to avoid regular cleanings and checkups, keeping to a schedule is always recommended. Some of the common reasons people avoid dental cleanings are cost and anxiety. However, there is a reason that regular cleanings are better for nervous patients and patients with budget challenges.
First, for cost, even if you don’t have dental benefits it is far more affordable to have a professional cleaning even just once a year than it is to allow plaque and tartar build-up to form. Without cleanings, you are leaving yourself open to decay and gum disease which will prove far more costly to treat than paying for annual cleanings.
Second, if you suffer from dental anxiety, not only can we make sure you are calm and comfortable during your appointments, but also help you avoid the need for longer, more involved appointments by providing regular cleanings. This is because you will have less plaque and tartar build-up to address, and you will maintain healthy teeth and gums that reduce the risk of tooth decay and gum disease. This means that not only are fewer dental treatments required but also that you require shorter dental cleaning appointments.
How long is a dental cleaning appointment?
As mentioned above, by sticking to a regular cleaning schedule, your appointments will remain short and sweet. In just 30 minutes we can perform the basic teeth cleaning required for healthy teeth and gums. From there, your dentist will address other issues or diagnostic and preventative measures as required. Depending on your personal needs, this can make your entire appointment including cleaning and checkup take as long as an hour.
Are dental cleanings painful?
If you are receiving regular dental cleanings and your teeth and gums are healthy there should be no discomfort with dental cleanings. However, those with dental anxiety might feel anxious and be more sensitive during cleanings. As well, if you do not have regular cleanings you might have more dental issues that can lead to discomfort which can include decay, receding gum lines and symptoms of gum disease.
Pain threshold and sensitivity, plaque build-up, and the timing of your last cleaning all contribute to the potential for discomfort. We address all of these issues before we begin cleaning so we can keep you comfortable. If you feel discomfort for any reason you can let us know and we will make sure we perform the cleaning, so you have the full benefit of the treatment without pain.
Without sounding like a broken record, the better you are at adhering to a strict oral care regime at home and the more committed you are to scheduling your regular dental cleanings and checkup, the more comfortable you will be during your cleanings.
What dental tools are used for cleaning?
Some people feel a little nervous when they see the tools used by our dental hygienists. However, all of the tools used are completely harmless. We are trained to use our tools in a manner that will not cause discomfort. Our tools can include:
- Scalers to remove plaque and tartar between the teeth
- Tooth polishers to buff the teeth and remove any small pieces of plaque left by the scaler
- A rinsing device to thoroughly rinse your mouth of hidden dirt and plaque
- A periodontal probe to measure pockets and spaces between your tooth and gums
What does a teeth-cleaning appointment include?
Your teeth cleaning is considered a preventive service. In general, the cleaning aspect of your dental checkup will include:
- Removal of plaque and tartar
- Fluoride application
- Sealants to prevent decay, if required
- Tooth polishing
- Cleaning of partial dentures
What else happens at a teeth cleaning appointment?
We also provide diagnostic services which might include:
- Updating your medical history including new medications you might be taking
- Oral cancer screening
- Gum evaluation
- Check your biting, chewing and swallowing patterns
- Examination for decay
Providing full updates on your health is important especially if you have undergone heart surgery or developed a heart condition. This can put you at higher risk of developing endocarditis. This can affect your heart. In these cases, we will prescribe antibiotics to be taken prior to your appointment to avoid infection.
Home Hygiene Instruction
During your cleaning, your hygienist will look for trouble areas where you might have more plaque buildup, gum issues, or other signs of potential dental challenges. This allows us to provide advice on proper home oral hygiene techniques to help you care for your teeth more effectively. Our goal is to help you reduce plaque buildup between professional cleanings. This will ensure you have the skills required to be more consistent and effective in your home care. Instruction and advice might include:
- Flossing tips
- Advice on the best toothpaste for your needs
- Proper brushing technique
- Recommendation for specialty toothbrushes such as electric models, or models with a pressure alarm
- Nutritional counselling
- Recommendations for future treatment both restorative and cosmetic
Dental cleaning should be a simple, stress-free process. We want our patients to look forward to receiving professional cleanings to keep your smile bright, and your teeth and gums healthy.