Before the cleaning begins, the dental professional will take a look at the entire mouth with a small mirror. This mirror is angled so that they can see all around the mouth, gums, and teeth. During this examination, they will look for signs of oral health concerns, such as inflamed gums, which may indicate gingivitis — the first stage of gum disease. Unless there are any problems detected, the examination and cleaning are taken care of by the dental professional without needing to consult anyone else.
The dental professional will use a scaler to remove any plaque or tartar that has built up on the surface of the teeth since the last dental examination. This is important because buildup can lead to tooth decay and cavities. A scaler is a special tool that looks like a hook. The dental professional uses it to remove the plaque on the teeth and around the gumline. It is normal to hear scraping sounds during the scaling. With regular brushing and flossing, scaling should not take too long.
After the dental professional has removed the plaque, they will use a gritty toothpaste and electric brush to smooth and polish the teeth. The brush may be noisy, but the brushing itself is unlikely to cause discomfort. The toothpaste has a gritty substance to help get rid of any leftover plaque that the scaling might have missed, and the paste itself will polish the teeth to protect them from the buildup of bacteria between checkups.
Flossing should be part of everyone’s regular at-home oral care routine. For people who do not floss regularly, there may be some discomfort during this part of the dental cleaning. The dental professional will use a thin piece of floss and glide it between each tooth to remove any plaque that might be present. They will likely ask how often the patient flosses and offer some suggestions for at-home care.