What Does a Dental Cleaning Entail?

What Does a Dental Cleaning Entail?

What Does a Dental Cleaning Entail?

Raise your hand if you dread going to the dentist. Don’t worry — you’re not alone.

Many people fear their dental cleanings. And as a dental practice, we understand the apprehension — from the occasional jaw discomfort to the poking and prodding, it’s not exactly a walk in the park. However, for most people, a dental cleaning is a very simple,  painless experience. 

Knowing exactly what’s going on during your cleaning can help ease some of the fear. Here’s the 4-1-1 on what goes on during a routine dental cleaning.

Physical Exam

The beginning of most teeth cleanings are performed by a dental hygienist. Before the actual cleaning process begins, the hygienist will start with a physical examination of your entire mouth. Using a small mirror, they will check your gums and and teeth for any signs of gingivitis, or other potential concerns. 

If the hygienist sees anything concerning, they might call the dentist in to make sure it is okay to proceed as planned.

Plaque and Tartar Removal

Next, using the small mirror once again to guide them, the hygienist will use a scaler, a handheld dental instrument with a hook on the end, to get rid of plaque and tartar buildup. You will hear scraping, but remember this is normal. Even the most expert teeth brusher will experience some plaque and tartar buildup. The more tartar there is in one spot, the longer this process might take.


After your teeth are free from any plaque or tartar buildup, the hygienist will now begin brushing them with a high-powered, electric toothbrush, deep cleaning the teeth. The toothbrush might make a grinding noise, but have no fear, it is completely normal and perfectly fine for your teeth. The toothpaste they use may seem gritty, as it is used to gently scrub your teeth. It is safe to use for your twice annual cleanings, but please be gentle when brushing your teeth at home as you do not want to wear down the enamel.

Expert Flossing

Again, even the most expert of flossers can use a professional flossing! Your hygienist will get between your teeth and identify any trouble spots. After this step the hygienist will instruct you to rinse your mouth thoroughly with liquid fluoride. 

Fluoride Treatment

The final step of your dental cleaning experience will be a fluoride treatment. We now do Fluoride Varnish treatments, which is a VERY quick and easy application of highly concentrated fluoride, that goes on clear and is applied with a small brush. The varnish is slightly sticky after application, but patients can eat and drink right away afterwards. This is recommended for patients who are at high risk for cavities or have symptoms of dry mouth, poor oral hygiene or dietary habits. 

Ready to schedule your next dental cleaning? Contact us today!