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What Actually Happens During a Dental Cleaning?

April 11, 2022 | Blog

Gulf Coast Dental Teaches You The Importance of Regular Dental Cleaning

Unfortunately, many people are overcome with anxiety when it’s time for a dental cleaning. A little nervousness is perfectly understandable, especially given how invasive a mouth exam can feel at first.

However, connecting with the right professional team can make your semiannual appointments as quick and comfortable as possible. The affordable, high-quality service at Gulf Coast Dental can keep your smile in great shape with minimal stress.

Additionally, understanding the basic steps of the teeth cleaning process can help alleviate your pre-appointment jitters. Read on to learn why dentist visits are essential and why there’s no need to worry.

Why Are Dental Cleanings Important?

The American Dental Association encourages adults to schedule a check-in with their dentist at least once a year (though two visits would be even better). This is because dental cleanings are your mouth’s equivalent for yearly physicals with a primary care doctor.

During cleanings, a professional can spot tooth, gum and jaw issues before they have a chance to worsen. This prevents the need for costly procedures like fillings or root canals down the road. Furthermore, dental hygienists have advanced tools to clean your teeth with extreme precision. That means even a flawless brushing and flossing routine at home can’t replace a clinical visit!

But what tools are used, and at what points in the examination process are they applied? The following section outlines the basic steps and supplies involved.

Stages of a Dental Cleaning

Physical Mouth Exam

First, a dental hygienist will visually scan your mouth, often with a small mirror in hand. This stage helps the treatment team identify any surface-level issues, including inflamed gums or severely corroded enamel. These problems affect how much pressure your teeth can handle through the rest of the process, which is why this step precedes the others.

Plaque and Tartar Removal

Next, the hygienist will begin the plaque and tartar removal process. Dental plaque is the buildup of bacteria on your teeth, which often appears as a thin, colorless or yellow film. Tartar, meanwhile, is hardened plaque that hasn’t been properly cleaned. Equipped with the same mirror from earlier and a tool called a scaler, the hygienist will break these substances away from your teeth and gum line.

Patients often dread this stage most, as it involves extensive scraping. However, tartar removal is integral to your long-term oral health. Plus, regular flossing dramatically minimizes plaque, meaning you can easily do your part to shorten the process by caring for your teeth year-round.


The toothbrushing process at a dental office differs significantly from your routine at home. Dental hygienists use a gritty paste and advanced electric brush to deep clean your mouth. The added texture and speed of the brush whisk away any leftover plaque while simultaneously polishing your smile.


Again, professional flossing techniques differ from the average patient’s methods. A hygienist can easily spot hidden debris that’s overlooked at home. Additionally, if your gums bleed at this point, a treatment team can identify any clinical causes for the irritation, such as gingivitis.


After all this scrubbing, there will probably be some loosened dirt sitting in your mouth. Luckily, the hygienist will thoroughly wash your teeth and gums with water, then perhaps offer you an oral rinse with fluoride.

Fluoride Application

Finally, if your treatment team doesn’t offer fluoride rinses, they will at least apply a fluoride paste. This gel-like substance helps your teeth better resist damage from bacteria and acid, meaning you’re less likely to develop cavities before your next visit.

X-Rays and Other Treatments

At this point, an average cleaning is finished. However, your dentist may recommend additional care depending on how the process went. For example, you may be asked to complete an X-ray to check for hidden cavities, especially if it’s been over a year since your last appointment.

Alternatively, if your dentist observed serious oral issues or tooth damage during your visit, you may need to schedule additional sessions for fillings, bondings or other services.

Find a Gulfport Dentist

As outlined above, dental check-ins are fairly straightforward, especially when led by experienced doctors and hygienists. At Gulf Coast Dental, our team is dedicated to protecting your oral health and helping you feel more confident about your smile.

Call us today to schedule a quick and simple dental cleaning.

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Gulf Coast Dental has been Gulfport's preferred, professional dental service since 1969.

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