What Is Dental Cleaning?
When you go to a dentist for a routine visit, a large portion of the visit will be dental cleaning. This is a professional process where an oral hygienist uses a special electric toothbrush and gritty toothpaste that gently polishes the teeth.
This type of cleaning is safe to do twice a year by a professional, but you shouldn’t be as harsh with your teeth at home as it can wear away the enamel or outer layer of your tooth.
What Happens During a Dental Cleaning?
During a routine dental visit, cleaning is not the only thing that your oral hygienist will do. They’ll make a few important assessments to ensure proper oral health.
1. Oral Exam
When you first sit back in the fun electrical chair, the dentist will conduct a physical exam of your mouth. Using a small mirror to check the back of your teeth and gums, they’ll search for early indicators of gum disease (gingivitis) or potential cavities.
If a major problem is noticed, they’ll call on the dentist to take a look before proceeding with the cleaning.
Sometimes, an X-ray is done at this time to see how the structure of your teeth appears within your gums. This is useful for checking if your teeth are out of alignment or if the potential for impact is apparent. A hygienist may be able to recommend braces, extractions, or Invisalign treatments to correct any problems before they get too severe.
2. Plaque and Tartar Removal
Unlike a golden plaque you have hanging on the wall of your den, dental plaque isn’t something you want to be showing off. Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that forms on the teeth to break down sugar and starches on the surface. The bacteria forms acids that destroy tooth enamel and lead to cavities.
If plaque is left on the tooth’s surface, it hardens into tartar, which is impossible to remove through brushing alone. An oral hygienist can use metal scraping tools to scrape away plaque safely and effectively.
Depending on the health of your gums, this part can feel a little uncomfortable, and you may notice some slight bleeding. Rest assured that the dental hygienist is not hurting you -- this process is very much helping you prevent cavities and gum disease.
After plaque and tartar are removed, this is typically when the dental hygienist moves into the routine cleaning portion. While the electric toothbrush they use might sound like a scary drill, the noise makes it seem much worse than it is.
After cleaning, the hygienist will likely have you rinse all the gunk out of your mouth to make it easier for them to floss and continue with the rest of the oral evaluation. Additionally, it makes it so that you don’t swallow any of the gritty toothpaste left in your mouth.
The grooves between your teeth can fill up with food, and brushing alone won’t be able to remove all of the gunk. This is why flossing every night is essential. The problem is that only 16% of people claim to floss at least once a day.
Even if you floss daily (which is great!), nothing beats an expert flossing session done by your hygienist. Dentists can get deep between the grooves of your teeth and into areas that might be hard to reach on your own. Plus, it can remove any leftover plaque or toothpaste leftover from the cleaning process.
5. Fluoride Treatment
Not all hygienists finalize their cleaning routine with a fluoride treatment, but this is especially common for younger children and teens. Fluoride is the ionized form of fluorine, a natural mineral that supports healthy bones and teeth.
Some fluoride treatments are swished around in the mouth just like a mouthwash, but others are sticky gels placed on a mouthpiece that you’ll bite down on. Others are painted onto the tooth’s surface. Regardless, these treatments are effective and can help to fortify your teeth to prevent cavities.
Dental Hygienist vs. Dentist
The person cleaning and analyzing your tooth is a dental hygienist, which differs from a dentist. The essential difference is that a dental hygienist is not a doctor, whereas a dentist has a doctorate in dentistry.
A dental hygienist cleans your teeth and helps to prevent disease. They can also conduct an exam to see if they notice any problems. However, they cannot diagnose or treat diseases in the mouth. A dentist, on the other hand, can make diagnoses and conduct oral surgeries.
Importance of Dental Cleaning
Getting a dental cleaning regularly by an oral hygienist won’t just fix any potential problems like tartar build-up of plaque. But it can also help to prevent problems from happening in the first place.
For instance, a dental hygienist can pinpoint and notice early signs of cavities so that interceptive measures can be taken. This can help avoid continued decay that can lead to a root canal or even a tooth extraction.
Additionally, regular cleanings can remove plaque and tartar build-up that’s impossible to remove with your run-of-the-mill toothbrush. This can help prevent problems from occurring in the first place, such as cavity prevention or gum disease prevention.
At the end of every check-up, the dentist can also check for signs of oral cancer. This is done by checking for lumps in the neck or head and assessing any red or white patches in the mouth. Oral cancer can be potentially fatal, so a regular check-up could truly save a life.
The issue is that all of these benefits are missed by so many people who don’t have access to dental insurance and are therefore unable to afford a routine cleaning. It’s time to break down the barrier to care to make proper oral health affordable and accessible for all.
Brush Up on the Basics
You can avoid the need for a repeat visit to the dentist for things like fillings or root canals by making sure you’re employing proper oral health techniques from home.
For one, brush your teeth twice a day, once in the morning and once at night. Take about two minutes to thoroughly scrub the four quadrants of your mouth with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Don’t apply too much pressure, as this can strip away enamel and predispose you to cavities.
You should also practice a good brushing technique by holding the toothbrush at a slight angle and aiming the bristles toward where the tooth meets the gum. Gently brush with circular back and forth motions for the best results.
And don’t forget to floss! Gum disease can easily form at the gum line between your teeth, so gently flossing to remove some debris and food should be done after brushing to keep everything in good shape.
Finally, be sure to replace your toothbrush every three months. Over time, your toothbrush can develop bacteria and do more harm than good. Likewise, if the bristles become flayed or irregular before then, you should give the brush a toss.
Cost of a Dental Cleaning
The cost of a dental cleaning can vary based on providers and the services given to you at the time. However, the average price for a cleaning alone is $118, which doesn’t include the $108 price tag for a physical oral exam that often accompanies. That’s over $200 for an uninsured individual to receive necessary care.
Even with insurance, hidden monthly premiums, deductibles, and copays can make a routine visit cost a lot more than it should.
How To Afford Dental Cleaning
The good news is that you don’t need insurance to gain access to high-quality dental care. Flossy uses a pay-as-you-go model that only charges you for the services you receive. No deductibles, no monthly premiums, no membership fees -- only transparent pricing that you’ll know before you go.
Flossy’s easy-to-use app interface lets you book appointments with providers in your area without a waiting time. So you can get your routine dental cleaning, among other procedures, as quickly as you need.
And don’t worry – our providers are vetted against rigorous criteria to ensure that you’re only getting the highest quality care. They must meet certain standards before joining our network, such as:
- Utilization of modern technology and techniques
- Four stars or more on popular review sites like Google or Yelp
- Experience and Knowledge
- Graduate degrees from top tier dental programs
- Peer recommendations
It’s care you can trust, and it’s care you can afford. Book an appointment now to get 50% off your dental cleaning, as well as a list of other emergency and routine oral procedures.
Get Clean With Flossy
Dental cleaning is a professional treatment done by an oral hygienist that involves using a special electric toothbrush to scrub away plaque and tartar while also polishing your teeth. It’s essential for preventing cavities and gum disease.
During a routine visit, you’ll also be given an oral exam to assess potential problems in the mouth. Additionally, plaque and tartar are scraped off with a special metal tool. Flossing and rinsing with fluoride are also essential components of your bi-yearly dental visit.
Dental cleaning is essential because it fixes problems and prevents future dental issues. They can also identify cavities or issues before they worsen into something much more serious.
The problem is that dental cleaning is expensive without insurance, and this barrier to care prevents many Americans from receiving necessary treatment. However, Flossy breaks down those barriers without breaking the bank.
No insurance? Perfect.
Book an appointment with top dentists in your area and get up to 50% off emergency and routine cleaning procedures to root canals.
What is an Impacted Tooth? | American Association of Orthodontists
About Fluoride | FAQs | Community Water Fluoridation | Division of Oral Health
Oral health: Brush up on dental care basics | The Mayo Clinic