West 85th Dental
8561 8A Ave SW Calgary AB T3H 0V5 (403) 246-5545

(587) 355-4332

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What Happens During a Teeth Cleaning?

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Most of us have spent an hour in a dentist’s chair listening to the whirring and whizzing inside our mouths. But have you ever wondered what is going on during those teeth cleanings? Have you ever thought about the processes involved before you leave your dentist with that professional sparkle?

Let’s understand what exactly happens during your teeth cleaning and why regularly scheduled cleaning sessions are so important.

Why Get Your Teeth Cleaned?

Modern dentistry has changed the stigma of dental cleanings. For most people, a teeth cleaning is comfortable and painless, and can even be relaxing! Some dentists offer personalized TVs, noise-canceling headphones, and massage chairs…yes, massage chairs.

Prevention Equals Progress

Plaque buildup is normal and inevitable in our mouths when bacteria form biofilms as we eat and breathe. Regular oral hygiene habits will remove most plaque daily, but problem areas that you constantly miss can result in the formation of tartar, a much harder substance that can only be removed professionally.

Dentists and dental hygienists remove plaque and prevent tartar by thoroughly cleaning your teeth and mouth. By using the right tools and being able to access areas that are hard to reach, professionals ensure a clean mouth that dramatically helps prevent gingivitis and other diseases.

For most people, dentists recommend a dental visit at least every 6 months.

Different Than a Dental Exam

Dental exams are also very important for great oral health but accomplish different things. During an exam, the dentist will inspect your teeth and gums for disease, decay, and damage. The dentist will make sure your jaw and bite align normally. 

A dental cleaning is focused on removing tartar, cleaning your gums, and giving your teeth a fresh, healthy start. Both dentists and dental hygienists can perform a cleaning. Often, both can be done on the same visit to the dentist, but know that you can get a teeth cleaning with or without a scheduled dental exam.

Steps to a Healthy Smile

The average teeth cleaning takes less than an hour. Patients with healthy teeth will require less work from the hygienist and less time at the doctor. There are a few steps that most standard teeth cleanings follow.

Initial Evaluation

Before any hands-on work begins, the hygienist will survey your mouth for any obvious signs of advanced gingivitis. If there are any serious conditions a dentist may be requested, but otherwise, the cleaning will begin. 

Removal of Plaque & Tartar

By using a specialized angled mirror and a periodontal scaler, the hygienist will break down tartar between your teeth and along the gum line. The scraping sounds may be intimidating, but this is a normal part of the cleaning that should not hurt. 

The less plaque to remove, the less time that needs to be committed to this step.

Time to Get Gritty

A high-grit toothpaste is used to further remove plaque and scrub the enamel of your teeth. Think of it like a gritty facial exfoliant- it helps wash away undesired buildup but doesn’t need to be done every time we clean our teeth. 

The hygienist will use a high-powered electric toothbrush that cleans and buffs your teeth during this process. It can be a little noisy but makes the same movements around your mouth that you would do at home brushing your teeth. 

Legit Flossing

Next is a professional flossing. Certain angles between your teeth can be hard to get to when flossing at home. A dental hygienist has the right vantage and a refined technique to get between every tooth and make sure that all trouble spots are cleaned. 

They may use a high-powered water sprayer to help wash away. This is another step in removing any leftover plaque.

Rinse & Fluoride

Finally, your dental professional will rinse your mouth and leave only the minty-fresh feeling of a serious clean. At this point, you can elect for a fluoride treatment. 

Fluoride is a mineral that strengthens tooth enamel. It is found naturally in our bones and added to drinking water in some cities. A fluoride treatment will usually be applied as a gel or paste inside a mouthpiece. Keep the mouthpiece in for about 1 minute, and voila, you’ve got stronger teeth!

Barring any complications, a complete teeth cleaning is as simple as these steps.

Two happy people brushing their teeth together in the morning while looking in the mirror in their bathroom at home

Keep That Professional Sparkle

Don’t you love the way your teeth feel after a professional cleaning? It’s easier to keep that crystal-clean smile by following some simple oral health guidelines.

Brush & Floss Regularly

You have heard it a million times, but brushing every day WILL reduce plaque and tartar buildup. The Canadian Dental Association recommends the following for healthy teeth:

Brush twice daily, for at least 2 minutes each time.

Floss once daily, between all teeth.

Tooth Friendly Diet

Paying at least a little attention to the types of foods you are eating will help keep your teeth clean and healthy. Proper brushing will remove most plaque, but there are some general nutritional guidelines for happy oral health.

Drink lots of water, as fresh water will wash away some of the sugars that contribute to plaque growth. Manage sugar content by incorporating vegetables and lean proteins into your diet. Always brush your teeth between your last email and bedtime. 

Healthy Hygiene Habits

The easiest way to maintain healthy teeth is through consistent oral hygiene habits and regular visits to your dentist. For most people, these two things will prevent tartar and gum disease.

A professional teeth cleaning removes plaque, cleans between your teeth, and provides treatments that will best protect your mouth from bacteria. Doing these things just twice a year will give you a healthy, confident smile!


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  • Written by Dr. Reena Kaloti

    Dr. Kaloti enjoys helping people, both at personally and professionally, and have fun while doing so. She always knew she wanted a job that allowed her to do that, and spent her childhood babysitting, lifeguarding, teaching swimming lessons, and volunteering in the geriatrics unit of her local hospital. She enjoys working with patients of all ages.

    Dr. Kaloti started studying dentistry in 2000 and graduated from the University of Saskatchewan with her DMD. After practicing dentistry for five years, she decided to take some time to focus on building her family. When she returned to work, Dr. Kaloti and Dr. Minhas decided to partner up and open up West 85th Dental. Their vision was to create a warm, inviting office and a pleasant and relaxing experience that would make their patients look forward to visiting.

    At West 85th Dental, we pride ourselves on providing comprehensive dental care to all our patients by providing thorough examinations, explaining our findings clearly, educating our patients about oral hygiene, and providing multiple treatment options that allow our patients to make educated decisions about their health and care.

    When Dr. Kaloti is not seeing patients, she spends her time doing charity runs, water sports, pilates, and spending time with her family.

    More Articles by Dr. Reena Kaloti

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    • 2110, 8561 – 8A Ave, SW,
    • Calgary, AB T3H 0V5

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