When you go into the office for a cleaning, you may need to know how long the process takes. A standard dental cleaning typically takes between 30 minutes and an hour, depending on your oral health. The better your oral health, the quicker the cleaning will be.
Visiting the dentist for a twice-yearly cleaning is a must. Dental cleanings remove plaque and tartar, help to prevent gum disease, and promote general oral health.
This post will explain the basic principles behind a regular dental cleaning, share how long the process typically takes, and answer your questions about the procedure.
Top Reasons for Dental Cleanings
Here are several reasons why dental cleanings are so important:
Screening for Oral Cancer
Dentists detect signs of oral cancer. While oral cancer represents only 2.9 percent of all cancers, according to the American Dental Association, it is a severe problem. Tobacco, alcohol, and human papillomavirus (HPV) contribute to oral cancer.
Early Detection of Dental Problems
When a patient has regular cleanings and examinations, dentists can pick up on problems before they get out of control. Cavities and gum disease are two examples of problems that are much more treatable when caught at early stages.
Preventing Gum Disease
Properly cleaning plaque and tartar along the gum line can help to prevent periodontal disease. Periodontal disease happens when the gums are inflamed and begin to pull away from the teeth, allowing bacteria to collect in the deep pockets and cause inflammation.
Regular cleanings and home care can prevent gum disease from advancing. In the case of gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease, home care, and cleanings can reverse it entirely.
Preventing Tooth Decay
Patients who keep their teeth clean at home are less likely to present with tooth decay. Twice-annual cleanings are another way to reduce the risk of tooth decay.
Guarding Against Tooth Loss
Uncared-for teeth may not last. Decay and gum disease undermine teeth and cause them to break or even fall out. Sometimes broken teeth can be saved using root canals and crowns, but frequently they need extraction.
Dentists agree that saving your original teeth is preferable over opting for dentures if possible. Dentists prefer that their patients initially care for their teeth rather than resort to a smile with gaps. Implants and dentures are expensive and take time to prepare.
Boosting Overall Health
The American Dental Association warns that poor oral health can bring on cardiovascular and metabolic conditions like heart disease, stroke, and diabetes if left unchecked. For this reason and many others, it's vital to have proper dental care at least twice yearly.
Addressing Home Care Issues
Even if you get dental cleanings on schedule, oral health could suffer from a lack of proper home care. If you have not brushed or flossed correctly, the dentist or hygienist will give instructions for better care at home.
Steps in a Dental Cleaning
Here are the six steps that dentists and hygienists follow to perform an exam and clean your teeth.
1. Complete Examination
First, your dentist or hygienist will perform a complete exam. They will use a mirror to look behind your teeth and assess your oral health.
Once a year, your dentist will usually recommend X-rays of your entire mouth. X-rays detect new decay and check the status of existing restorations like crowns and fillings.
2. Removing Tartar and Plaque
Next, the hygienist scrapes tartar and plaque from your teeth with a scaler tool. Many dentists' offices use ultrasonic or water-powered scalers. They will also use their small mirror to check all around each tooth surface.
If you have too much debris on your teeth or have developed periodontal disease, your dentist may recommend you come in for a full scaling.
3. Cleaning with Toothpaste
Next, the hygienist cleans and polishes your teeth with a gritty toothpaste material. The gritty paste is rough enough to clean but will not damage your enamel.
The hygienist checks to ensure all teeth can be flossed and shows you proper techniques.
The hygienist will give you water to rinse your mouth.
6. Fluoride Treatments
After the cleaning, many dentists' offices offer fluoride treatments to adults and children. Fluoride gel helps to harden the enamel and prevent future tooth decay.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are a few questions commonly posed by our patients:
Who should get dental cleanings, and how often?
Most patients should receive cleanings and complete oral exams twice yearly. However, patients with gum disease need to follow the schedule given by their dentist. They may need cleanings and exams more often than patients in good oral health.
When should the first dental exam and cleaning take place?
A child's first dental exam should happen between 6 months and 1 year, as soon as the first teeth erupt. This practice will help your child become accustomed to visiting the dentist as a safe and friendly place and checking for early problems.
Are dental cleanings painful?
Dental cleanings may be uncomfortable for some people, especially those with advanced gum disease. They should not be painful. If you experience pain, be sure to tell your dental hygienist.
If the fear of pain when cleaning your teeth stops you from making an appointment, call your dentist to discuss possible sedation options.
Getting Regular Cleanings for Better Health
When making appointments for routine medical visits, book a teeth cleaning and comprehensive exam at the dentist.
If you get regular cleanings, your teeth will be bright and shiny, and your risk of health problems will lower. Making a small investment in your health could prevent heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.
Make sure that your children receive proper oral care as well. When children visit the dentist at a young age, they will be less likely to fear it and avoid taking care of their oral health in the future.
Contact Us Today
Call Ballas Dental Care today at 314-432-5544 to set up an appointment for a cleaning. Getting a cleaning and complete examination now will lead you toward better oral and overall health.