Cavities, gum disease, and tooth aches are all dental problems that can happen to anyone. An important first step in preventing these problems is getting routine dental cleanings and exams. By developing a daily oral hygiene routine and scheduling regular dental cleanings, you can take control of your oral health today. When you schedule a hygiene appointment with Lawhead Family Dentistry, our dental professionals will provide you a dental cleaning experience that is comfortable and customized to your specific needs.

Routine Dental Cleaning Procedure

For many, a routine dental clinic visit includes a comprehensive oral exam, an evaluation of oral hygiene habits, and a regular dental cleaning (or prophy). Depending on how long it has been since your last check-up, your next dental visit may also include x-rays of your teeth and jaw.

A Regular Dental Cleaning Involves Several Steps:

  1. Your licensed dental hygienist, will start by removing debris, calculus, and plaque from the gum line of your teeth and between your teeth. This cleaning step is performed using an ultrasonic scaler and or a manual hand scaler. The ultrasonic scaler is a handheld device that uses vibration and water pressure to remove plaque and tarter build-up.
  2. After the scaling process is complete, the next step is polishing the teeth. Polishing removes surface stains and plaque from areas of the teeth that are not easily removed with scalers. This polishing is completed using a special polishing paste and a handheld rotary instrument. The dental professional will take the time to polish each tooth individually.
  3. When the polishing is complete, the hygienist will floss your teeth using dental floss. It is common for the dental hygienist to give you recommendations or suggestions about how to best floss your teeth at home.
  4. The final step of a dental cleaning is application of topical fluoride varnish. This is a “sticky” paste that contains a high concentration of fluoride (2.26%) that helps to re-mineralize teeth and make them more resistant to cavities.

After the completion of the cleaning, your dentist will perform an exam of your teeth and soft tissues. The dentist will recommend appropriate treatment based on any diagnoses made during the exam.

Deep Cleanings

After an exam is completed, either as a new patient or during a hygiene appointment, the dentist may recommend a more extensive dental cleaning based on the current health of your gums and teeth. This more in-depth cleaning, called Scaling and Root Planing, is recommended when evidence of gum disease is present. Gum disease, or Periodontitis is a condition that is common for many adults. The condition is caused by certain types of bacteria found along or below the gum line. If left untreated, chronic Periodontitis can cause the destruction of bone surrounding the teeth, eventually resulting in the mobility or even the loss of affected teeth. Fortunately, gum disease takes time to progress and when it is identified and treated in the early stages, it can be controlled before severe damage is done. Scaling and root planing is focused on removing the bacteria form along and under the gum line. This involves administering a local anesthetic to numb the area to be treated and then cleaning under the gum to remove tartar and plaque. Deep cleanings may include post-treatment care and follow-up visits with your dentist to make sure the treatment has been successful. For more information about Periodontal disease, see “Periodontal Therapy” section.

Dental Cleanings For Everyone

Good oral hygiene and regular dental cleanings are important at all ages. At Lawhead Family Dentistry, regular dental cleanings are performed on patients of all ages, including children, adults, and patients that require special accommodations. It is recommended that patients receive regular cleanings at least every 6 months. More frequent cleanings may be recommended based on the patient’s cavity risk and periodontal (gum) health.

For children, it is generally recommended to begin receiving oral exams beginning at 12 months of age. Early visits to the dental office allow for education and development of good hygiene practices, and allow any abnormal findings in or around the mouth to be identified and treated early. If children are introduced to dentists at a young age, it not only helps prevent dental decay, pain, and infection from happening, but also helps the child become comfortable with regular dentist visits. At your child’s first visit, a dental cleaning schedule will be recommended based on the findings from the exam, parent/patient needs, and behavior of the patient during the appointment. Dental cleanings are an important step to ensure that a child’s teeth develop, grow, and stay healthy until their adult teeth arrive.

Our team at Lawhead Family Dentistry works with families, adults, and patients of all ages to make sure your dental cleanings are as comfortable and effective as possible. Our goal is to provide a comfortable and customized experience that meets each of our patient’s needs.