(a.k.a dental prophylaxis appointment)
A cleaning is a routine visit that should be done every 3 to 6 months. At the appointment, your hygienist will begin by reviewing your medical history and taking your blood pressure. The appointment will also include a thorough exam of soft tissue (gums, cheeks, tongue, etc.) by the hygienist and the dentist. When this is done regularly, areas of concern can be caught early and treated conservatively, which is always our goal. If time permits, an intra-oral scan is done with our new iTero digital scanner. This allows us to see the intricacies of your bite and to track changes that are occurring in the positioning and wear of your teeth.
Your hygienist will spend most of their time removing the plaque and tartar from your teeth using ultrasonic and hand instruments. This is the “cleaning” part of your appointment. It is important because the plaque that can’t be reached with home brushing and flossing turns into tartar within 24 to 72 hours, which can only be removed by a dental professional. Your hygienist will also give oral care recommendations that will help you optimize your home cleaning routing, such as pointing out areas that might need more attention.
Following this, your hygienist will polish your teeth with a motorized handpiece using prophy paste and a prophy cup (a small rubber cup). This process removes remaining plaque and bacteria and also leaves you with smooth teeth, which helps you prevent subsequent plaque buildup while you’re brushing and flossing at home. Page Dental Group also has an air polisher, one of the newest tools in dental polishing. If your hygienist determines you may benefit from it, the air polisher can be used to apply air and powder to remove stains efficiently and with ease – PROPHYflex™ 4 Hygiene Nex-gen air polisher.
Lastly, your hygienist will floss your teeth, not only for a good professional flossing, but also to check for any tartar that might remain under your gums or between your teeth.
Some visits may also include dental x-rays. The standard of care, as prescribed by the State Board of Texas Dental Examiners, is usually met for the typical patient with annual x-rays, although our staff may identify something that requires additional x-rays for proper diagnosis. Page Dental Group only uses digital technology for this important part of your visit to minimizing your potential exposure. The American Dental Association and the FDA have developed recommendations to help us provide best care practices for our patients and their x-rays, and we follow those recommendations closely : ADA / FDA Guide to Patient Selection for Dental Radiographs.
At least annually, your hygienist will check the health of your gums using a periodontal probe. If they find one or more deep pockets (the space between the gum and the tooth), it could indicate a possible breakdown in the health of your gums, which may require additional treatment.
Your dentist and/or hygienist may recommend that you come for your cleaning visits every 3 or 4 months instead of every 6 months. This is more likely to be a recommendation if you have a history of gum disease, uncontrolled cavities, use tobacco products, or simply experience increased tarter buildup.
I’m sure this seems like a lot to do, but we can usually get it done in an hour, and these appointments are an essential preventative measure for keeping you healthy and smiling bright!