You brush your teeth at home, maybe even twice a day. You occasionally might even floss. Isn’t that enough to keep your mouth healthy? Why pay someone else to do it for you?
Honestly, it may be a great deal more important than you think. And here’s why...
Why Do You Need a Professional Teeth Cleaning?
Dental cleanings do more than help you achieve a beautiful smile. Even with the very best everyday oral care at home, bacteria tends to build up on the teeth in a sticky film called dental plaque. The longer this bacteria stays in place, the more harm it can do.
Bacterial plaque harms both the teeth and gum tissue. It uses the sugars from the food and drinks you consume and creates an acid which can dissolve tooth enamel.
If enough enamel is eaten away, you can end up with a cavity or hole in the tooth. You may not even know a cavity is present until it is large enough that the nerve is irritated. By that time it is a much more difficult issue to treat.
Even small amounts of bacteria can cause inflammation of the gum tissue. Gums turn red and may swell and bleed easily. This is referred to as gingivitis.
If not cleaned off, the bacteria can eventually harden into a solid crust called tartar or calculus. The inflammation can then begin to eat away at the gum attachment to the tooth and eventually the bone holding the tooth in place.
This is called gum disease or periodontitis and can lead to tooth loss. Periodontitis has also been linked to heart disease, dementia, and stroke.
Seeing your dentist for a professional cleaning allows them to remove all the bacterial plaque and calculus. They will also look thoroughly around your mouth for other issues, including cavities, infections, and oral cancers.
It is generally recommended to see your dentist at least twice a year. It may be necessary to see them more often if you have gum disease or certain medical issues.
What To Expect During a Basic Dental Cleaning (Prophy)?
People are often nervous when they have not been to the dentist in a while, especially if they don’t know what to expect. That said, here is what happens when you have a basic dental cleaning and checkup.
The first thing your dentist or dental hygienist will do is a thorough examination of your mouth. This will likely include taking some x-rays of your teeth to check for decay, infections, and bone loss.
They then may do a visual exam, looking around in your mouth for signs of cavities or other issues. They should also check your cheeks, throat, and sides of your tongue for oral cancers. They may even feel your lymph nodes under your jaw and down your neck.
Normally, the dentist or hygienist will use a dental explorer, which is a small hook-shaped tool used to check for soft areas of tooth enamel. They may also use a dental probe to measure the gum pocket depth around each tooth. Depths of 2 or 3 millimeters indicate healthy gums while 4 or more may indicate areas of bone loss or gums issues.
After dental issues have been documented, the hygienist will begin cleaning your teeth. You will lay back in the chair with your mouth open while they use a tool called a scaler. This instrument is used to break off any calculus or tartar build up on the necks of the teeth.
After the hardened plaque buildup is removed, the hygienist will then polish your teeth. They use a special handpiece with a spinning rubber cup on the end. A gritty polishing paste containing pumice is used to remove stain and soft plaque. Teeth are polished until they are clean and smooth.
Rinsing & Fluoride
The polishing paste is rinsed away with a spray of water, which is removed with a suction tube. After everything is clean, a gel or foam may be applied containing fluoride. This helps harden any weak areas of tooth enamel and prevents cavities.
A basic dental cleaning (sometimes called a prophy) should usually take around an hour to complete.
Deep Cleaning Teeth Procedure
If during your exam the dentist finds areas of bone loss or gum disease, you may be a candidate for a deep cleaning, also called scaling and root planing. This differs from a basic cleaning because bacterial buildup needs to be removed from deeper in the gum pockets.
Normally a patient is numbed during a periodontal deep cleaning. This is to make sure you are comfortable during the procedure. Dentists normally only like to numb half of your mouth at a time, so the procedure is often divided into two appointments.
Once numb, the dental hygienist treats the tops of the teeth as they would during a basic cleaning. Where gum pockets are present, however, they will use an instrument called a scaler to get below the gum line and remove hard deposits.
The hygienist may also use a device called an ultrasonic scaler or Cavitron. This device has a tip that vibrates very quickly to break up hard calculus and uses water to flush it out.
Once clean, deep pockets may be irrigated with an antibiotic rinse. Dental lasers are also used sometimes to sterilize deep pockets and promote healing.
Each half of your mouth may take about an hour and a half to complete. That’s another reason the treatment is often divided into two appointments.
How Much Is a Dental Cleaning?
In general, keeping your teeth healthy is ultimately less expensive than having to fix or replace them down the road. Plus you get to keep your teeth! But maintaining a healthy smile does come with a cost.
If you have insurance, basic dental cleanings and x-rays are usually fully covered. If not, expect about $100-$200 to have your exam and cleaning if you do not have gum issues. The total cost is dependant on your location and the individual dentist.
If you need to have a deep cleaning, insurance usually picks up about 80% of the cost. If you are not insured, it can cost on average $150-$300 per quadrant, or quarter section, of your mouth. That means $600-$1200 for the whole mouth.
Additional costs for medications or other necessary procedures may also be required. Expect costs to be significantly higher if you have to see a specialist instead of a general dentist.
Other Ways For a Brighter Smile
Professional teeth cleaning is great for stain removal and keeping healthy, but it works hand in hand with everyday home care. Be sure to continue brushing and flossing as directed to make your professional cleanings as easy and painless as possible.
There are also other ways to help achieve a beautiful smile! While having a dentist clean your teeth removes stains and discolorations from the outside of teeth, it does not actually change the color of your tooth enamel.
To actually whiten your teeth, you need a dental whitening kit like the one available from AuraGlow. Dental whitening uses hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide gel to oxidize stains and discolorations and lighten the tooth enamel.
AuraGlow offers the best at home teeth whitening kit on the market. It includes a professional strength carbamide peroxide whitening gel and a powerful LED whitening light to achieve amazing results in just 30 minutes a day! Visit our website to learn more and order the product that’s right for you.