Your biannual dental cleanings and checkups are about far more than just shining up your teeth. If you’ve ever wondered exactly what’s happening in your mouth with all those different tools and noises, here are 10 things your dentist or hygienist do at every dental cleaning.
- Eliminates tartar and plaque
A small tool called a scaler is used to scrape away the plaque and tartar that have built up on your tooth enamel and along the gum line over the past six months. This portion of your cleaning takes the most time and requires the most meticulous nature. If there are teeth that are hard for you to reach with your toothbrush, your hygienist will be diligent about freeing them of all that gunk.
- Polishes teeth
Once your teeth have been carefully scraped, they will be polished for ultimate smoothness. This not only cleans off the surface of your teeth, it is a preventive measure to help prevent plaque from accumulating sooner than necessary.
Your hygienist knows when a patient flosses and when he doesn’t, and this is the moment of truth. Your hygienist’s thorough job of flossing in between each tooth will either be a breeze or a little tender for the non-flossers.
- Checks teeth
Each tooth gets a careful once-over from your dentist to ensure that it looks healthy, strong, and is problem-free. Your dentist uses a probe and small mirror, identifying any suspicious areas and seeing if there have been any changes since your last visit.
- Checks gums
The gums are just as important as your teeth as they do house your pearly whites. Your dentist will look for swelling, bleeding, and redness, all signs of early gum disease, while also measuring the pockets between your teeth and gums.
- Examines your bite
Your bite tells your dentist just as much information as the condition of your teeth and she will notice if anything has shifted recently or is cause for concern. This is a great time to talk about any questions you have about teeth grinding or clenching your teeth or discuss the possible use of a mouthguard at night.
- Checks your TMJ
When people say they have a TMJ problem, they’re talking about their temporomandibular joint, which connects skull and jawbone. When this joint isn’t working properly it can cause pain and discomfort and lead to oral health problems like cracked or worn teeth.
- Does an oral cancer screening
A thorough dental exam includes an oral cancer screening. It’s perfunctory, but still thorough, and includes your dentist’s review of your cheeks, tongue, palate, head, neck, and lymph nodes for any signs of cancer or infection.
- Checks salivary glands
Your mouth needs a decent amount of saliva in it to consistently “wash” the teeth. If salivary glands aren’t producing enough saliva, you will suffer from dry mouth and be at a higher risk of decay.
- Talks to you
Take advantage of every dental cleaning to ask your dentist about your teeth, cosmetic dentistry, smile makeovers, and any other oral health concerns. Contact us to schedule your appointment with Dr. Alana Macalik and stay on the road to good oral health.