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Teeth Cleanings

Teeth cleanings performed by a dental healthcare professional is a common dental procedure that helps to keep the gums and teeth clean and healthy. Because of dental anxiety or phobias related to it, some people might fear getting the teeth cleanings and therefore avoid getting the process. This can have deleterious effects on the teeth. Well, you don’t need to worry at all! By understanding the basics of the procedure involved in teeth cleanings, you will be able to get over the fear easily.

dentist polishing patient's teeth

Teeth Cleanings Procedure

While the accurate procedure for teeth cleaning may vary from place to place, most dental care professionals follow one routine.

Examining Teeth and Gums

Before starting the actual procedure, the professional gets a small concave-sided mirror for checking the individual’s mouth and check the quantity and type of plaque, tartar, inflammation in the gums, cheeks, and tongue. In addition to that, your dental team will check for any possible signs of oral pathologies including pigmentation, and tumors. It would help the professional know what to focus on in the cleaning process. If serious issues are present, the professional would most likely investigate for further problems and will let you know.


A scaler is a small, hooked tool used by the dentist to remove any possible tartar or plaque from the teeth surface approximating to the gum line and in between the patient’s teeth. Depending on the amount of buildup in the teeth, either an ultrasonic or a manual scaler is deployed. A manual scaler would feel like scraping on your teeth. On the other hand, an ultrasonic scaler would use gentle vibrations with water to remove large deposits. You should feel comfortable throughout the procedure. If any pain is experienced, let your hygienist or dentist know so they will approach the cleaning with a different technique and even apply the local anesthetic gel with a non-cutting needle if needed for sensitivity.

Flossing and Polishing

In the next step, the professional would polish the teeth and remove the teeth stains using an electric tool through a rubber cup attached and a toothpaste termed as prophylaxis paste. The individual would be expecting to feel a slow, grinding movement on the teeth in this step. The professional would then floss the teeth for removing the remaining paste and plaque.


We would also use fluoride treatment during the teeth cleaning process. Patients can select the flavor of the fluoride gel or the varnish that would suit them. The varnish is a gluey gel that sticks slightly to your teeth for a couple of hours. It does not hurt and it actually tastes really good. Your dental team will give you some instructions, like not eat or drink for 30-60 minutes depending on the material and brand they used on you.

Some patients prefer to have a fluoride-free dental cleaning and we understand that. In these cases, we will instruct the patient to take even more care of their teeth as fluoride has been scientifically proved to be a good strategy in cavity prevention. Your dental team will talk to you about the benefits of fluoride and if you do not want to have it, we will respect your decision. Make sure to brush your teeth for about 2 minutes after your main meals, remember to brush the back teeth as well. They are easily forgotten to be brushed. Also, floss all your teeth every day. Following these 2 simple instructions will improve your oral health a lot.

Can Dental Cleaning Hurt?

In short, teeth cleaning is not a hurtful process and it accounts for zero to minimal pain or discomfort. To mitigate pain, it is important to fight inflammation, tooth decay, or gum disease. Also, if you are already aware of any painful sensation that might get triggered during the cleaning process, it is important to let the hygienist know so they can try a different procedure. Quick reminder: we are here to help you. We are open to hear what you are experiencing and open to change the strategy needed for better care.

Final Word

While considering a teeth cleaning might feel uncomfortable or invasive to some, it is nothing to be fearful of – the consequences that come with not thoroughly cleaning your teeth once in a while would be painful for some. Regular brushing and flossing might prevent the detrimental tartar and plaque from building on the teeth that can seriously damage your oral health.

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