When you go to a dental office for a routine checkup you often see not one but two dental health professionals- the dentist and the dental hygienist. In many offices, the patient will be seen by the hygienist first.
This professional will give the gums and teeth a look-over, followed by periodontal scaling and root planing the teeth.
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The dental hygienist might also instruct the patient in how to properly care for their gums and teeth at home (i.e. how to brush the teeth correctly and how to floss correctly).
The dentist will then see the patient and will go through the steps involved in a clinical examination of the mouth. The dental provider will be able to diagnose any problems that have gotten underway and/or will be able to suggest preventative maintenance for the gums and teeth.
The cleanings you do at home with your own toothbrush are an integral part of your oral hygiene routine. But in and of itself it is not enough.
What to Expect From a Cleaning
The purpose behind a cleaning at the dentist's office is to remove the hard calculus known as tartar that builds upon the teeth above as well as below the gum line.
Once the calculus has been removed then polishing is the next step in the cleaning process. The crowns of the teeth which are the parts of the teeth that you can see are polished by the hygienist to eliminate plaque as well as surface stains on the teeth.
If there are a lot of stains or stubborn stains then a small rotating rubber cup or brush and an abrasive substance applied directly to the teeth may be used in addition to the polishing.