We want you to leave our dental clinic with your teeth looking and feeling great. But routine cleanings benefit you in several ways.
During a typical teeth cleaning, your dentist may provide three types of services.
1. Diagnostic Services
Diagnostic services include:
- Updating your medical history.
Your dentist will want to know about changes in your health, medications you’re taking, and how to contact your primary care provider and specialists. This information helps the dentist ensure the oral health care you receive supports your overall health.
- Evaluating your gum tissue for signs of periodontal disease (gum disease).
Your dentist will look for plaque and tartar buildup on your teeth. They will check whether your gums bleed easily. They may also measure the spaces between your teeth and gums. (In healthy mouths, these pockets are 1-3 millimeters deep.) Keeping gums healthy reduces your risk of tooth loss and other problems.
Your dentist will take X-rays to look for damage to or disease in your teeth, roots, jaws, and facial bones. X-rays help give your dentist a complete picture—literally—of your oral health.
- Screening for signs of oral cancer.
Your dentist will look for red or white patches or sores in the lining of your mouth. They will feel your soft oral tissue and examine your throat and neck for lumps. Catching oral cancer early makes treatment easier and positive outcomes more likely.
2. Preventive Services
Preventive services typically involve some combination of:
- Removing plaque and tartar.
Plaque (the sticky bacterial film always forming on teeth) and tartar (hardened plaque, also called calculus) cause tooth decay. While regular brushing and flossing at home can remove plaque, only a trained dentist using a manual scaler (scraper) or ultrasonic tool can remove tartar.
Our dentists will use manual or ultrasonic tools and jets of mild abrasives and aerated water to remove stains from your enamel (the surface of the teeth).
After cleaning teeth, the dentist will smooth their surfaces using a special, professional paste. Polishing further removes plaque and stains, and leaves your teeth feeling fresh and smooth.
- Applying fluoride and sealants.
Your cleaning may include a fluoride gel, foam, or rinse. Fluoride safely remineralizes enamel, making it more resistant to tooth decay. Your dentist may also recommend applying sealants—thin coatings painted on the back teeth to protect enamel from plaque and acids.
- Cleaning and adjusting dentures (if applicable).
Like natural teeth, dentures can get stained and accumulate plaque and tartar. They need routine professional cleaning and regular checks to ensure a proper and comfortable fit.
3. Educational Services
Educational services your dentist may provide include instruction in proper brushing and flossing, and discussions of recommendations for future treatment.