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  • Writer's pictureThe Bright Bite

Don't Be Afraid To Get A Dental Cleaning!

What you need to expect during a dental cleaning.

1. Meet your Hygienist 

First, I like to greet the patient and bring them back into the operatory. I think it’s funny sometimes because I’ll tell patients “you can hang up your purse and have a seat” and a lot of times they will sit in the chair that I’m supposed to work in and I’m like “oh no wrong chair, you’re supposed to actually sit in the chair that reclines” and they’re usually like “ohh oops."

2. Review medical history

I always like to make sure health wise that nothing has changed with the patient; including any new medications or surgeries since the last visit.

3. Check up x-rays

If it is time for check up x-rays I will get the lead apron and put it on the patient. I will then grab the sensor and pull up the x-ray application. This helps to make sure that everything is healthy.

4. Probe

I always probe no matter what, on every patient at every appointment, I grab an assistant and they help me mark down all the pocket charting. This helps me meaure and know how healthy your gums are. Healthy gums are measurements of: 1, 2, and 3. 4 means gingivitis. 5 or more means bone loss around the tooth which we are more concerned about. My main thing is that we also mark any time someone bleeds when we’re taking the pocket measurements because that’s a really big indicator where the bacteria is. 

5. Explore

An addition to doing the pocket measuring I will also explore, which basically means that I’m looking and filling around each tooth for any tartar or bacteria underneath the gums and then once I explore I will usually use the ultrasonic if the patient doesn’t have recession.

6. Ultrasonic

I make sure to really lavage and flush the gums thoroughly. Before starting I let the patient know that they should expect water. I remind the patient to always breathe through their nose. Sometimes, I don't know if patients just get nervous because they're at the dentist, but sometimes they will say “ahh, I can’t breathe there is too much water!" I always joke and comment "I know you're not a mermaid but just breathe through your nose and you will be ok." I try to make sure that I don't flood the patient with too much water when I am cleaning their teeth and using the ultrasonic. I take breaks, I also use the suction and I ask them frequently to close down and spit into the suction as much as possible so they don't feel like they're drowning.

7. Handscale

After I use the ultrasonic I will handscale. I especially make sure the lower anteriors are nice and smooth. All of my instrument packs have a wide variety of instruments a 13/14, 11/12, ⅚, ⅞, universal, sickle. I use different instruments for different angles and really it just depends on the patient and what I see fits best.

8. Explore again

I like to recheck again to make sure the patient doesn't have any leftover tartar. Any areas that had bleeding when I probed I always make sure to go over and make sure they are nice and clean.

9. Irrigation

If a patient had any 4 or 5 mm pockets I will lavage and irrigate with CHX 0.12% to make sure those areas get treated.

10. Fluoride varnish

If a patient is cavity prone or sensitive I will recommended varnish. I dry their teeth and paint it on. This just helps seal up the teeth, help to fight cavities and help with any sensitivity.

11. Tongue Scraper

I clean every patients tongue with a scraper to help them understand that bad breathe comes from the bacteria that sits on the tongue.


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That's pretty much what my cleanings consist of! I like to stress the importance of cleanings with my patients. More cleanings means less dental work for the future and unlikeliness for health complications (ex. strokes, heart disease) because less plaque that clogs arteries. I like to not only clean my patients teeth but help them understand that their healthy teeth can keep them healthier for life. My favorite part of the appointment is catching up with the patients. Love finding out what's new and going on in their life. The most important thing for me as a hygienist is the therapy that I get from helping my patients get through tough times. I love getting closer to them and I look forward to seeing them for their next visit. Seeing the patients on the schedule give me joy. I love feeling like a family member, catching up, and cleaning their teeth!

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