Preventive – Professional Dental Cleaning
Routine dental teeth cleanings are an important part of maintaining your oral and overall health, yet some people dread it and put it off. Fortunately, the courteous and compassionate staff at Super Smiles of Burlington, Massachusetts (serving all of Middlesex County and surrounding areas), recognize this and work extra hard to put you at ease and minimize any pain or discomfort you may have experienced at other dentists’ offices. Dr. Emilie Miller and her team of highly trained dental professionals use the latest tools and techniques to give you compassionate care during your teeth cleaning and will listen and work with you to make it as comfortable for you as possible.
What is a Routine Dental Cleaning?
Knowing what’s involved when you get your teeth cleaned can help reduce any fear and anxiety you may be having about having your teeth cleaned. Teeth cleanings are generally performed by a trained professional called a dental hygienist. The dental hygienist’s job is to remove tartar (hardened plaque) and plaque from your teeth, which makes them clean.
Your dental hygienist will first use a mirror and light to examine your mouth for any signs of gingivitis or other issues they should be aware of before beginning the cleaning. If they find anything which requires additional attention, they’ll call Dr. Miller in to take a look before proceeding.
After the initial oral exam, the dental hygienist will start the cleaning by using a tool called a scaler with the assistance of a mirror to scale, or scrape, the plaque and tartar from between your teeth and your gum line. You’ll hear a scraping sound as this is performed which can be unsettling, but it’s perfectly normal. By brushing and flossing regularly you can reduce the amount of tartar buildup and consequently reduce the amount of scraping the next time you get your teeth cleaned.
Once the hygienist has removed all the tartar and plaque from your teeth, they’ll then use a special rotary toothbrush which makes a high-pitched whiny sound. It can sound a little scary at first, but it’s perfectly safe and painless. You may also hear a grinding sound which comes from the gritty toothpaste they put on the special toothbrush. The gritty toothpaste is a lot like the kind you use at home but it’s denser and has added grit to polish your teeth’s enamel.
Now that your teeth are perfectly clean and polished, the hygienist will floss your teeth the way only a trained professional can. By flossing your teeth, they remove any leftover plaque and toothpaste from between your teeth and look for any areas in your gums that may bleed. The places that bleed will require you to pay special attention to them in the future when you’re flossing at home.
Once you’ve been flossed, the hygienist will rinse your mouth with a tool called a water pick which sprays a very thin jet of water and can get up into your gum line and between your teeth. After the water pick, you’ll be given a mouthwash containing fluoride for you to rinse with.
The final step is a fluoride treatment which will help protect your teeth for the next few months and strengthen your teeth’s enamel. The hygienist will fill a mouthpiece with the fluoride treatment and put in your mouth for a minute to set up. Afterward, they’ll paint on an invisible fluoride varnish which hardens on contact with saliva so you can eat and drink right after your cleaning. And you’re done!
Tooth sealants are a protective coating painted onto the surface of teeth to prevent decay. They’re usually applied to the back teeth, or molars, where it can be hard to reach when brushing and flossing. The protective coating seals out any plaque that could form and prevents any decay from occurring. If you choose to have your teeth sealed, the ideal time is right after your teeth have been cleaned.
Tooth sealing is usually used for children between the ages of 6 and 14 when they’re most cavity prone. However, all children under the age of 18 and adults who’ve never had a cavity in their molars are also candidates for tooth sealing.
The sealant is applied by first drying the tooth with an air jet and cotton swabs. Next, the surface is prepared by applying a mild acid to the tooth’s enamel which will roughen up the enamel and give the sealant an ideal surface to adhere to. After the tooth has been prepared, the sealant is painted on and allowed to dry.
Tooth sealants can last up to 10 years but should be checked regularly for any signs of chipping or wearing away.