Routine Dental Cleanings

Brushing your teeth and flossing at home is a great start to taking care of your teeth and gums, but they don’t replace professional dental cleanings. As well as helping you to hone your at-home oral hygiene routine, your dentist or dental hygienist will carry out a number of specialist cleanings during your appointment.

This professional cleaning helps to keep your teeth and gums in good condition, and it can prevent existing issues from worsening too. By having regular dental cleanings, you can help to minimize decay and avoid future problems, such as cavities, periodontal disease and/or teeth staining.

What Do Dental Cleanings Involve?


When you attend dental cleanings, your dentist or dental hygienist will carry out a number of techniques, including:

  • Plaque Removal
  • Tartar Removal
  • Teeth Polishing

However diligently you clean your teeth at home, it’s inevitable that some amount of plaque will form on the teeth. Plaque is comprised of millions of bacteria, so it doesn’t take long for it to start causing decay. As a result, if plaque is left untreated, it can lead to cavities, gum disease, and other oral health issues.

During routine dental cleanings, plaque will be removed using specialist tools. Although you won’t experience any pain or discomfort during dental cleanings, these dental tools enable plaque and tartar to be removed more effectively. Known as ‘scaling’, removing plaque and tartar is key to keeping your teeth and gums in good condition.

If you’ve already missed some dental cleanings, you may have developed some tartar. This occurs when plaque isn’t removed, as it hardens and is most noticeable along the gum line. If you’ve already noticed tartar on your teeth, there’s no need to panic but you do need to schedule a dental cleaning. Using a periodontal scaler or ultrasonic dental tools, tartar can be removed from your teeth.

This helps to minimize additional build-up and prevents the tartar from causing additional health problems, such as gum recession or tooth decay. If plaque and tartar aren’t removed from the teeth, they will cause damage over time. In fact, you might be surprised at how quickly plaque and tartar can begin to damage your teeth and gums. By attending regular dental cleanings, you can ensure that your mouth is free from harmful plaque and tartar and that you aren’t putting your oral health at risk.

Once plaque and tartar have been removed from the surface of your teeth, you’ll notice that they feel smoother. Plaque sometimes feels sticky or like there is a film over your teeth, while tartar typically may feel hard or rough. Once removed, patients tend to find that their teeth feel smoother and they may even look brighter too.

What Is Tooth Polishing?

Following plaque and tartar removal, your dentist or dental hygienist will polish your teeth at your dental cleaning appointment. Professionals use a variety of methods when carrying out tooth polishing, including polishing paste and air polishing systems. These allow the dentist or dental hygienist to effectively remove stains from the teeth, giving them a shinier and brighter appearance.

However, tooth polishing isn’t solely for cosmetic purposes. Although most patients are pleased with the cosmetic effects of tooth polishing, there are medical benefits to the procedure too. If there are rough patches on the teeth or any minor imperfections, it is easier for them to harbor bacteria. As it can be more difficult to clean these areas using at-home techniques, it’s more likely that plaque will build up on the affected area and tartar could subsequently form too.

By polishing your teeth at routine dental cleanings, your dentist or hygienist will smooth any rough parts of the tooth and any other minor imperfections. By removing rough patches and smoothing the surface of the tooth, plaque is less likely to adhere to the tooth. As a result, tooth polishing can help to keep your teeth in better condition. Furthermore, patients often find it easier to clean smoother teeth at home, which means your own oral hygiene is likely to be more effective following routine dental cleanings.

Who Should Have Dental Cleanings?

Almost all patients can benefit from routine dental cleanings, and dentists usually advise their patients to attend cleaning appointments on a regular basis. If you have any concerns about the suitability of dental cleaning for your teeth, it’s advisable to discuss them with your dentist rather than avoiding the cleaning altogether.

Are Dental Cleanings Painful?

Removing plaque and tartar and polishing your teeth shouldn’t be painful and you shouldn’t experience any discomfort whilst these procedures are carried out. Occasionally, patients may report some slight sensitivity when larger pieces of tartar are removed. This is simply because the tooth has been covered by the tartar for some time and is not used to being exposed to other elements. Typically, this resolves fairly quickly and doesn’t result in long-term sensitivity occurring.

Of course, many patients feel apprehensive about visiting the dentist and this can apply to dental cleanings too. If you’re worried that you will experience pain during the cleaning, please tell your dentist or dental hygienist. If necessary, numbing gels or local anesthetic can be used to ensure the patient does not feel any discomfort at all whilst their teeth and gums are being cleaned.

Why Isn’t An At-Home Oral Hygiene Routine Enough?

A daily oral hygiene routine is vital to maintaining healthy teeth and gums, but it doesn’t avoid the need for professional cleaning. Even when using toothbrushes, interdental brushes, and floss, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to clean every part of each tooth effectively enough to remove the plaque that’s present. In addition to this, once plaque has transitioned into tartar, at-home dental hygiene tools are not usually effective enough to remove it.

Professional dental cleanings are designed to clean every part of your teeth and gums, including those hard to reach areas you may miss at home. As your dentist or dental hygienist has access to a variety of professional dental tools and equipment, they are able to apply the most effective techniques when performing a dental cleaning. As well as maintaining your oral health, attending regular dental cleanings will also minimize the need for subsequent treatment and keep teeth bright and sparkling.

Schedule An Appointment Today

All of us at BK Dental in Evanston & Wood Dale look forward to working with you and your family. Schedule an appointment with us today to keep all of your smiles pretty and beautiful! Ready for your next dental appointment? Call BK Dental today at (630) 766-2223.

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