A Closer Look at Oral Hygiene Appointments
Every six months or so, you should visit your dentist for a checkup and oral hygiene appointment. A professional dental teeth cleaning is a standard practice and many don’t think twice about what’s happening while their hygienist is busy cleaning their teeth.
Your dental hygienist is doing quite a lot during a cleaning. Their expert eye is looking for signs of trouble while they gently work away at removing plaque from your teeth. Oral hygiene appointments are actually very interesting when you know more about them!
Let’s take a look at what happens during a professional dental cleaning session as well as get familiar with some common types of dental cleaning tools.
What is my hygienist doing during my teeth cleaning session?
First, your hygienist will perform an oral exam. They’ll take a very close look at your teeth, keeping an eye out for anything abnormal. If a small cavity is found, they’ll make note of it to discuss with your dentist. If a bigger issue is found, the cleaning session will be halted and your dentist will come to take a look.
If the visual exam checks out, your hygienist will move forward with removing plaque from all surfaces of your teeth. This includes the teeth you see as well as the base of the teeth hidden by your gum tissue.
After the plaque is removed your teeth will be polished with a gritty, flavored tooth polish product. Your hygienist may then floss between your teeth before giving you a small cup of water to rinse your mouth.
Finally, your dentist will often come in after your teeth cleaning to speak with you and check out your smile. After that, you’re all done!
What dental teeth cleaning tools do hygienists use?
Most people don’t get a good view of the dental tools their hygienist uses during the appointment. From your perspective, you might just see some different shiny silver tools while your hygienist explains what they are doing.
Although cold, metal tools may seem intimidating, each tool serves a very important purpose. Though the material may not look inviting, since they are made of metal they are able to be sanitized in an autoclave to ensure complete sterility.
Here are the nine main types of dental teeth cleaning tools your hygienist might use during your appointment, from hand tools to advanced technology.
1. Dental Mirrors
These handy little mirrors allow your hygienist to get a close look at your teeth, especially the back of your teeth where plaque or a cavity might be hiding. Hygienists will often use a concave mirror as they give a magnified view.
Scalers are the hand tools used for scraping or removing plaque and debris from the surfaces of the teeth. Scalers come in a few shapes, but all serve the same purpose.
Perioprobes are sometimes also called explorer tools. These probes have a hook-shaped end and are used to check gum health, particularly gum pocket depth.
While scalers remove plaque from visible teeth, curettes are used to remove plaque from the part of the tooth hidden under the gum line. Curettes have a rounded end to protect your gum tissue.
Once your teeth are free from plaque, your hygienist will use a polisher to buff your teeth to a smooth finish. This buffing action removes any tiny specks of leftover loosened plaque and ensures the teeth are smooth in order to prevent future plaque buildup.
6. Saliva Ejectors
A saliva ejector is a vacuum-like tool that removes saliva, loosened plaque, and any food debris that’s come away from the teeth during the cleaning. It will also suck away the water from your mouth after rinsing.
7. Ultrasonic Scalers
Traditional scalers are hand tools while an ultrasonic scaler is a handheld mechanical device. This tool uses ultrasonic waves to remove stubborn plaque and tartar.
8. Digital X-Rays
Digital x-rays are important for your dentist and your hygienist. In some cases, your hygienist will take x-rays for your dentist if they find an issue with a tool before cleaning. They may also reference your x-rays before your teeth get a cleaning to ensure a tooth that needs treatment is treated with extra care.
9. Intraoral Cameras
Intraoral cameras are a really unique piece of dental technology that allows dentists, hygienists, and you to see a clear, real-time image of your teeth. Your hygienist might use this to evaluate your oral health or to show you something specific in your smile.
What happens if I skip dental cleanings?
When you regularly skip dental cleanings, a few things begin to happen to your smile.
Plaque begins to build on your teeth, especially around the gum line and in between teeth. Plaque buildup often leads to gingivitis (gum inflammation) and eventually may evolve into periodontitis or gum disease. Bacteria will also flourish, causing everything from halitosis or bad breath to tooth decay. In the event that you do develop gingivitis or a small cavity, the damage from either problem will continue to worsen until noticed by a dentist or hygienist.
Remember, biannual oral hygiene appointments are about preventing problems just as much as they are about keeping your teeth clean.
Schedule your next professional dental teeth cleaning today.
For professional deep cleanings with gentle, skilled hygienists in the Bee Cave and Lakeway, TX area, Tomasik Family Dental is where you’ll want to be. If it’s been a while since your last professional teeth cleaning or you want to book a future cleaning, you can do so by calling our office or using this online form.