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What to Know For Dental Checkups & Hygiene

Brushing and flossing regularly at home are both great oral care habits, but are only part of a successful routine for preventing cavities and gum disease.  The other essential part of a successful oral care practice is having teeth professionally cleaned by a hygienist.

To understand why brushing and flossing alone are not enough to maintain healthy teeth, you have to understand plaque.

What Is Plaque?

Since plaque is continually developing on the teeth, brushing and flossing actually disturb the growth of plaque rather than remove it.  If plaque accumulates it can harden into tartar and once that happens you can no longer remove it by brushing and flossing.

The condition of your teeth can make it harder to disturb the plaque.  For example crooked or crowded teeth can be much harder to clean.  Deep pockets in the gum line between your teeth can also make it hard or even impossible to reach by brushing and flossing.  Normal pockets are 2 – 3 millimetres deep, whereas 4 – 5 millimetre pockets are considered deep and unreachable by home oral care measures.

What Happens At A Dental Hygiene Visit?

There’s a lot happening in a one hour hygiene visit at Millrise , and therefore it’s very important that you arrive a few minutes early for the appointment so it can get underway on time.  Here’s an overview of a typical dental hygiene appointment.

Dental Hygiene Cleaning

Our hygienists use a variety of tools to help deep clean your gums and the teeth surface –both above and below the gum-line.   Normally our hygienists use an ultrasonic cleaner and a water sprayer to loosen and remove plaque and tartar from your teeth and gums.  This tool is very effective, especially for teeth with heavy deposits of tartar. Alternatively, our hygienist may also use a hand scraper to remove plaque and tartar.

For most people the cleaning process is quite painless.  However, if your teeth or gums are sensitive, there is an option to use a local numbing agent or freezing to relieve this discomfort.

The cleaning process is completed with a polishing and flossing and a recommended fluoride treatment.


In addition to the cleaning there are a few other checks are completed at your hygiene appointment.  These include x-rays (if required), oral cancer screening, and a periodontal examination (to check for early signs of gum disease).

At the end of the hygiene session, your dentist will come in for a brief checkup and let you know if there are any concerns.

How Often Should I Have An Appointment?

The true answer to this question is that it depends on your oral health.  The ADA recommends that you visit your dentist at least once a year to get a routine examination and cleaning, but this does not take into account any negative conditions that might increase the frequency needed.

For example, patients with early signs for gum disease or with a history of gum disease could require a cleaning every 3 – 4 months.  Patients with chronic conditions such as diabetes or heart disease and those who smoke are also in a higher risk group and should have cleanings more often.

Our Hygienists

Our hygienists are caring and gentle.  Not only will our hygienists take good care of your teeth and gums during an appointment, but they also strive to educate you about your oral health.  This could include proper brushing and flossing techniques and more.  If you have any questions at all, don’t hesitate to ask our hygienists.

Contact us  to book an appointment.  We’re your Calgary SW clinic for all of your family’s dental needs.  We look forward to hearing from you soon.

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