Most Common Dental Procedures (And What to Expect)

Ah, the dentist’s chair. A sight that makes most people feel uneasy. Almost everyone, when they were a child felt anxious when the topic was a dentist appointment. Many still have the fear they had as a child of that chair during their very first visit with the dentist.

Fear is a natural response to a perceived danger that one believes might cause them pain or threaten their survival. Sitting in that dentist’s chair is usually unavoidable, that’s why you need to learn about and understand the most common dental procedures. This way you can know what to expect and ease your fears and be ready when the time comes.

Teeth Cleaning

When talking about teeth cleaning, it most certainly pertains to a deep cleaning procedure that is designed to remove plaque and tartar build-up on your teeth. In most cases, this is a brief and painless procedure and anesthesia isn’t commonly used. 

The dentist usually starts the process called “scaling” or simply picking off tartar build-ups. Typically done with a small scraping tool called a periodontal scaler or for larger concentrations of plaque, an ultrasonic scaler is used. This small machine uses vibrations and water in removing dental calculus. 

Polishing your teeth usually follows to prevent future plaque build-ups. Your trusted dentist might also offer you a fluoride treatment to strengthen the outermost layer of your teeth also known as the enamel. 


This procedure could take from 30 minutes to about an hour since, more often than not, a cleaning procedure is imperative before the actual whitening. The bleaching procedure itself takes only about 15-20 minutes. Note that it may also take a few visits to complete this procedure, and improvement on your desired whiteness may not be visible immediately.

Although non-invasive, the bleach that is used has the potential to irritate your gums. Hence, a protective resin or a rubber gum shield is applied to prevent any damage to your gums. Tooth sensitivity is also a common side effect of this procedure and could take 24-48 hours before subsiding. During this period it is advised to avoid food or liquid with extreme temperatures. Using a toothbrush with soft bristles and being more gentle while brushing might also be advised.


Saying goodbye to a permanent tooth is an uncomfortable thought for most people. You risk damaging neighboring teeth and risk your overall oral health if you neglect extraction. 

Reasons for extraction include a cavity, tooth decay or caries, damage from trauma, Hyperdontia (a condition that causes people to have excess teeth), and preparation for orthodontia (treatment for aligning the teeth).

Tooth extraction is also often called for due to persisting symptoms of tooth decay, such as:

  • Toothache with no apparent cause
  • Tooth Sensitivity
  • Any abnormal staining on your teeth
  • Unusual pits and holes on your teeth

Your dentist needs to know your medical and dental history before the process of tooth extraction. Your dentist may also ask for an X-ray to be taken to see the best possible way to extract your tooth. This step might also be required for surgical extractions that involve making a small incision in the gums to fully access the tooth that needs pulling out.

Regardless of whether it’s surgical or just a simple extraction, a local anesthetic would be administered. However, in cases that require multiple extractions, your caring professional would probably make you sleep for the duration of the process. These steps ensure that the procedure is painless for you throughout the procedure.

There are instances where a dentist may need to break your tooth into smaller pieces for easier extraction. This can prolong the procedure since they would need to find and extract the sequestra or broken fragments from the extracted tooth or bone sockets. If you’ve undergone this procedure, you may feel a lump or a splinter on the extraction spot a few days or weeks later, these are just those broken fragments being expelled by our bodies natural process. It isn’t something you should be worried about though.

Generally (if you aren’t put to sleep), you would only experience pressure during the procedure. Afterward, your dentist would encourage a clot to form on the area by letting you apply pressure with the help of gauze between your teeth.

You normally would like to avoid extremely cold or hot food items after extraction. Fluids and soft food are encouraged to be taken right after the extraction and then you could gradually change your diet to harder ones. Just remember to avoid chewing on the site of the procedure to prevent food debris from entering the wound. You should recover from it after a day or two but it could take a few weeks to fully heal.

Root Canal

This procedure is more complex than the others on this list. It requires the skills of an Endodontist, a dentist that specializes in the diagnosis and procedures inside the tooth such as a root canal.

Root canal therapy or endodontic therapy involves the treatment of inflamed and/or infected tissue called the pulp. Concerning the latter, prescription of antibiotics before any physical procedure should be mandatory. After the treatment of the pulp or root, it is then removed to make space for the filling to close the hole in the tooth and prevent further damage to it.

This would take more than one visit and the actual removal of abscesses and the root could take several hours. Despite this, and contrary to most beliefs, it is less painful than you imagine.

Understanding the processes behind these common dental procedures would help you ease the anxiety you get from the idea of sitting in a dentist’s chair. And you should always remember that these skilled dental professionals are trained to give you the best treatment and solution to your oral care.