The American Dental Association and dentists everywhere recommend coming in for professional dental cleaning, every six months for optimal dental health. The truth is that there is more to the visit to the dentist than just getting your teeth cleaned.
There are specific things that both the hygienist and the dentist do that benefit your dental health for their own reasons. To help everyone understand the importance of professional cleanings, here is an explanation of what happens during a typical visit.
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The Hygienist's Duties
A dental hygienist is responsible for the dental cleanings, so they are often the person who brings you back into the dental chair. The first stop is usually to get x-rays done.
These are important to give a more complete picture on the health of the teeth. A large portion of the tooth is under the gum tissue and the roots are an important part of the tooth structure.
Scraping Plaque and Tartar. This is the most important step of dental cleaning. No one likes having their teeth scraped, but that is the only way to remove plaque and tartar from your teeth. Plaque is a sticky, yellow substance that builds up along the gum line and sides of teeth. It traps bacteria against the tooth surface, causing cavities. When the plaque sits for too long, it hardens into a brown layer on the tooth called tartar. This is harder to remove and indicates more serious damage.
Polishing. After your teeth are clear of plaque and tartar, the hygienist will polish your teeth. This helps to remove any lingering plaque from your teeth and scrub away surface stains with a motorized tool. Throughout the process, you will be rinsed and suctioned to remove particles and grittiness left behind.