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What Dental Cleaning Tools Does a Hygienist Use?

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A close-up of a young woman getting her teeth cleaned by a dentist, the dentist is using a mirror and a scaler for cleaning

Regular dental cleanings are an important part of maintaining a healthy smile. During a dental cleaning, your hygienist has the tools and knowledge to access hard-to-reach areas that you might miss while brushing or flossing at home. 

Your hygienist is an important part of your dental care team. In addition to cleaning teeth, dental hygienists also teach patients about good oral hygiene practices and help identify potential oral health issues. 

A hygienist has a variety of dental cleaning tools at their disposal to help ensure that they can provide you with a thorough cleaning. Common dental hygiene tools include a mirror, scaler, saliva ejector, polisher, and fluoride. Below we will explore the dental cleaning tools you might see at your next appointment and how your hygienist uses them. 

A photo of different types of scalers, a concave mirror, and ultrasonic scalers are common types of tools used for cleaning teeth

Dental Cleaning Tools

While dental cleaning appointments will vary from clinic to clinic, during a cleaning you can generally expect your dental hygiene team to use tools to remove plaque, tartar, and other debris from your teeth. They may also polish your teeth to remove surface stains and apply preventative treatments like fluoride to help strengthen tooth enamel. 

Common dental cleaning tools include: 

  • Mirrors: A mirror is a simple, but essential, tool used by hygienists and dentists alike. This tool allows your hygienist to see your teeth more easily and from various angles. The small, round mirror helps your hygienist easily see plaque and tartar buildup in even the smallest of crevices. 
  • Scalers: A scaler is a hand-held metal tool, usually with a small hook on either end. Scalers are used to scrape away plaque and tartar on your tooth and around your gumline. 

Many dental hygienists use an ultrasonic scaler. This type of scaler uses high vibrational energy to safely and effectively remove plaque and tartar from the surface of your teeth. It also simultaneously sprays water to wash away debris and rinse your mouth.

  • Saliva ejectors: A saliva ejector is a small rubber tube that your hygienist may place in your mouth throughout your dental cleaning. The saliva ejector uses suction to remove saliva and water and keep your mouth dry during dental procedures, including cleanings. 
  • Polisher: A tooth polisher is a powerful toothbrush-like tool. Polishers have a small, round, tooth-sized brush to easily polish every tooth individually. Your hygienist can use a polisher to help remove stains from your teeth. 
  • Fluoride: Fluoride treatments can help to strengthen your enamel and reduce the risk of tooth decay and cavities. At the end of your dental cleaning, your hygienist may apply a fluoride paste to the surface of your teeth. 

Why Dental Cleanings Are Important

Good oral health and good overall health go hand in hand. Dental cleanings should be an important part of your oral health routine and can help to prevent problems such as:

  • Cavities: Plaque and tartar buildup can lead to tooth decay and cavities. During a dental cleaning, your hygienist will remove these substances before they can cause damage. 
  • Gum disease: Plaque and tartar buildup can also lead to gum disease, which can cause inflammation, bleeding, and even tooth loss. Regular dental cleanings can help prevent gum disease or diagnose it when it is easier to treat. 
  • Bad breath: Plaque and tartar buildup can also contribute to bad breath. You can expect to leave your dental cleaning with fresher breath. 

During a dental cleaning, your dentist or hygienist may also examine your mouth for signs of serious oral health conditions like oral cancer. 

Poor oral hygiene has also been linked to a higher risk of serious health conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, and respiratory problems. Regular dental cleanings can help you to maintain good oral health and reduce the risk of these health issues. 

How Often Do I Need a Cleaning?

Building good oral hygiene habits like brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing every day is a great start to preventing tooth decay and other dental problems such as gum disease. However, you still need to visit your dentist regularly for cleanings and checkups. 

The Canadian Dental Association (CDA) recommends that most people visit their dentist at least once every 6 months. With that being said, how often you visit the dentist will depend on a few factors. Most of the time our hygienists will recommend 3-4 months, depending on your needs. You and your dentist can work together to come up with an exam schedule that is tailored to you. 

Book Your Next Dental Cleaning in Calgary

Now that you know what to expect at a dental cleaning, you can walk into your next appointment with confidence. The team at Rockwood Dental is here for all of your dental needs, including dental cleanings and exams

Written by Rockwood Dental

At Rockwood Dental, our goal is to help you achieve the healthy and beautiful smile you’ve always dreamed of.

Our team is committed to providing a personalized dental experience from beginning to end. To do this, we offer a range of dental services, including preventative dental care, restorative dental care, and cosmetic dental care.

Rockwood Dental is located at #102, 1032 17th ave., between 9th and 10th Street SW in Calgary.

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