A lot of the anxiety people experience while at the dentist stems from the unknown. People don’t know what to expect when they go in for an appointment. Here is everything you can expect from a routine checkup/cleaning:
The dental hygienist will start by simply checking your teeth. Most of the time they will use a small mirror to check your teeth, gums, and mouth for any oral problems. They’ll look for dark spots, inflamed gums, or excessive plaque or tartar buildup. This helps them to know what to focus on during the cleaning. If they see something out of the ordinary, sometimes they’ll speak to the dentist to make sure it’s okay to proceed with the cleaning.
This is one of the most important aspects of your cleaning. You can get rid of plaque by brushing and flossing, but once it turns into tartar it can only be removed at a dentist’s office. The hygienist does this using the same mirror from the examination and a scalar to scrape the plaque and tartar away. You might hear a scraping noise, but don’t worry that’s completely normal.
Polishing sounds kind of fancy, but it’s really just taking brushing to another level. The hygienist will use an electric toothbrush and special gritty toothpaste to ensure that your teeth get a deep clean. This removes any tartar that didn’t come off with the scalar in Step 2. You might hear a grinding noise, but that just means it’s working. Teeth polishing can only safely be done twice a year. Doing it more often may be too harsh for your teeth, so make sure you aren’t too hard with your teeth brushing at home.
Next, the hygienist will floss your teeth. If you don’t floss often at home, don’t be alarmed if your gums bleed a little bit. Either way, it’s important to get a good floss during your checkup (we recommend you floss daily at home as well!)
Whether or not you require a fluoride treatment is up to your dentist, and often the type of water you have at home. Some do it, some don’t, but we’ll tell you about it just in case. The hygienist will put a foamy gel into two trays and set them in your mouth. It typically comes in a few different flavors, and they’ll let you choose which one you want. The trays will sit for about a minute before you rinse. Fluoride treatments can also consist of a rinse that you swish in your mouth much like mouthwash, and helps to strengthen your teeth.
After your teeth are clean, the dentist will come to talk to the hygienist about your teeth and do a final check to make sure everything looks good before you leave. This is also a time where you can ask them any questions you have about your oral health.
If you have any questions about a routine cleaning or need to set an appointment, check out our website.