No matter how vigilant you are with brushing and flossing your teeth and gums, tartar and plaque can accumulate around your gum line and between teeth. Having your teeth professionally cleaned by your family dental practice is a vital part of good oral health care. Most family dentists recommend having your teeth cleaned by a professional every six months to ensure the health of your teeth and gums.

In most family dental offices, teeth cleaning is performed using special cleaning tool by a certified dental hygienist. The cleaning process begins with scaling to remove tartar deposits from the teeth. This step involves gently scraping the teeth with a manual tool called a scaler. Your hygienist may also use an electronic device called an ultrasonic scaler, which utilizes a steady stream of water and gentle vibration to break apart and rinse away larger pieces of tartar.

After the scaling is complete, the hygienist will polish all tooth surfaces using a polishing tool and a slightly abrasive paste. This step helps to remove surface stains and creates a smooth surface that is not as likely to attract plaque and bacteria. Finally, your cleaning will be followed up with a fluoride treatment, which can be administered in a rinse, gel, or varnish format. Fluoride strengthens your tooth enamel, helping it to resist acid that can lead to tooth decay.

Most dental patients do not experience any pain or discomfort during professional cleaning. However, if you have dental anxiety or sensitivity, let your family dentist know prior to cleaning so they can recommend options such as numbing agents or sedation to make your cleaning experience more pleasant. Most professional cleaning appointments are completed in 30 minutes to one hour. Regular, professional teeth cleanings by your family dentist are the primary means of preventing and treating periodontal disease and maintaining excellent oral health.