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What You Need to Know About Teeth Cleaning

Do your teeth have plaque that no amount of brushing can remove? No worries. Your dentist does not just help you fight cavities, they can also help you keep free from different problems, including gum disease, through regular teeth cleaning.

As the name suggests, the goal of teeth cleaning is to give you teeth that are free from common problems, such as plaque and tartar. However, it goes way farther than conventional teeth cleaning methods like brushing and flossing. Professional teeth cleaning is done by a dental hygienist, although in certain cases, it may also done by your dentist.

Why do you need professional teeth cleaning?

1. It helps prevent tooth loss.

Gum disease can be caused by plaque. As the condition progresses, plaque travels down the teeth, loosening the teeth, and making it more prone to falling out prematurely. Professional teeth cleaning removes plaque and prevents the onset of gum disease that leads to tooth loss. Since teeth cleaning also involves a degree of examination, it can be useful in detecting and preventing conditions like gingivitis and gum infections.

2. It prevents tooth decay.

Plaque contains acidic substances that eat away at your teeth’s enamel. When unremoved, they can cause cavities. While regular brushing and flossing are effective cleaning methods, regular teeth cleaning removes plaque in areas you cannot reach, as well as plaque deposits that have become too tough for regular brushing.

3. It keeps your breath fresh.

The presence of bacteria is one of the leading causes of bad breath. Proper hygiene is the best way to keep your breath smelling good. Brushing and flossing is not always enough. That said, professional cleaning ensures that your mouth is as clean as it can be.

4. It improves your health.

There is proof that dental health plays a huge role in overall health. In fact, some diseases, such as diabetes, can be detected through symptoms in the mouth. It has also been shown that cardiovascular diseases, including heart disease, can be complicated by advanced gum disease.

5. It gives you a great smile.

Teeth stains from coffee, tea, wine, and cigarettes can affect the quality of your smile. Professional cleaning helps remove these stubborn stains to give you winning smile.

6. It saves you time and money.

At the end of the day, prevention is better and cheaper than cure. Professional cleaning helps prevent diseases and conditions that can be pricey and time-consuming to treat. A small cost and a short amount of time given to professional cleaning today will ultimately save you from steeper expenses in the future.

How is professional teeth cleaning performed?

There are many misconceptions about teeth cleaning. Perhaps the most prevalent of these is that the entire process is complex and takes a very long time. This isn’t true. Additionally, the advances in dental technology has turned teeth cleaning into an even more manageable experience for you.

The process usually takes several steps, although your hygienist may add certain steps as needed:

1. Physical exam.  

In this step, your mouth is examined for signs of gum disease and other conditions. The hygienist uses tools, such as a small mirror, to check inside your mouth and behind your teeth. If they find any problem, they may call the dentist to gain the latter’s permission to proceed.

2. Plaque removal.

In this step, the hygienist removes the plaque and tartar that have accumulated on your teeth. While plaque can be removed through brushing and using dental floss, tartar can only be removed through professional cleaning. Your hygienist will use a scaler between your teeth and around your gum line. Do not be afraid of the scraping noise as this is normal. The more tartar is on your teeth, the longer the process is going to be.

3. Gritty toothpaste.

The hygienist will apply a gritty toothpaste using a high-powered electric toothbrush. The toothpaste and its rough texture is what causes the grinding noise commonly associated with teeth cleaning. Aside from removing the excess tartar that the scaler may have missed, this step also polishes your teeth. The toothpaste comes in usual mint flavor, although some dentists allow you to choose a different taste or scent. Please note that a gritty toothpaste shouldn’t be used often as it can wear down your enamel with continuous use.

4. Expert flossing.

This step is like regular flossing, but this time, somebody else is doing it for you. What this means is that you will get a better clean as the hygienist can see where the problem areas are. This step is a great way to clean between your teeth and get rid of remaining plaque, tartar, or toothpaste.

5. Rinsing.

In this step, you rinse your mouth with water to get rid of debris and other substances. Usually, your hygienist will use a rinse that contains liquid fluoride to help strengthen your teeth.

6. Fluoride treatment.

This treatment helps protect your teeth from cavities. In this step, the hygienist uses a mouthpiece into which is applied a gel. You have to bite the mouthpiece for about one minute. Your hygienist may let you choose from different gel flavors.


Sometimes, teeth cleaning may also involve other steps, such as X-rays and other exams, depending on what you need. This will vary on the results of their observations on your mouth and teeth. X-rays should be done only once a year.

Another common misconception about teeth cleaning is that it is painful or uncomfortable. This often has a lot to do with the grinding and scraping noises created by the scaler and the gritty toothpaste. Again, these are normal sounds. The process of professional teeth cleaning is often fast and causes very minimal discomfort.

If you have reservations about going through the whole teeth cleaning process, worry not. Because of some of the steps involved, such as the toothpaste, teeth cleaning is usually scheduled for only twice a year.

Dental health is often overlooked. What many do not realize is that the mouth is an extremely crucial part of the body and keeping it clean and healthy is just as important as maintaining the rest of the body.