Professional Teeth Cleaning: What to Expect

A professional cleaning makes your teeth look great!

A professional cleaning makes your teeth look great!

Professional teeth cleaning is a term used to indicate cleaning of the teeth surfaces from plaque, food remnants, and tartar by a dentist or dental hygienist. It is different from the daily teeth cleaning ritual of brushing and flossing we all perform daily.

Who needs professional teeth cleaning?

Everybody needs to have their teeth professionally cleaned at least once a year. Plaque and tartar buildup has no symptoms, and you may not notice changes to your teeth and gums. As the amount of tartar increases, it begins to press on the gums, and you will start to see some bleeding of your gums, especially when brushing. With more and more build-up of tartar deposits, the gums begin to recede, exposing the sensitive part of the teeth, and you may start to feel some sensitivity to cold foods and drinks. The final stage is that the teeth become mobile, and they may even need to be removed. These are the stages of periodontal disease.

What is the process of professional teeth cleaning?

There are two general types of professional teeth cleaning: manual cleaning and ultrasonic cleaning. Manual cleaning is rarely used anymore as the new ultrasonic technology is much easier and takes much less time. Therefore manual cleaning is only used in cases of severe teeth sensitivity, or when attempting deep cleaning, which is called root planning as the ultrasonic instruments cannot reach that far deep into the gums.

Ultrasonic cleaning uses a device which sends ultrasonic waves into a small tip, causing it to vibrate at supersonic speed, and that breaks up the food remnants and heavy tartar deposits on the tooth surface.

After the tartar is removed, the teeth surface becomes rough, and more liable to food accumulation and even decay. Your dentist or hygienist will use a brush attached to a drill, along with a polishing paste, to smooth the surface of the teeth and give them a shiny, lustrous appearance.

How often should I seek to have my teeth cleaned?


Most dentists and hygienists recommend having your teeth cleaned every 6 months to 1 year. 
However, some patients are genetically predisposed to tartar build-up and need to have their teeth cleaned more often. The opposite is also true, and some patients can go up to 2 or 3 years without the need for cleaning.

What should I expect after I clean my teeth?

The tartar attached to the tooth surface will usually push against the gums as they recede from their original position. After the tartar is removed, its place will remain empty for a couple of days, until the gums return to their original position. Until that happens, you may feel spaces between the teeth with your tongue, especially the inner side of the lower front teeth. Also, the teeth may become sensitive to hot and cold foods and drinks for a little while, and that’s why your dentist or hygienist will recommend using a toothpaste containing fluoride, and possibly using a fluoridated mouthwash to control the gum inflammation and the sensitivity.

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