What to do Before Going to the Dentist for a Cleaning

Professional teeth cleanings are done by a dental hygienist at a dentist’s office. The hygienist uses tools to remove stubborn plaque and tartar from your teeth, both above and below where the gum meets the tooth. The buildup of plaque and tartar is natural, but once you have too much plaque buildup, it can start to eat away at tooth enamel. Too much buildup can cause gum disease, which can lead to other serious health issues. The health of your teeth and gums can impact almost every part of your body.

A professional teeth cleaning is an important part of your dental care routine. Even if you floss and brush your teeth regularly, it is still important to schedule a professional cleaning at least twice a year. Teeth cleanings are routine, but there are some things you need to know and prepare before you go to your appointment.

Bring Dental Records

If this is your first appointment with a new dentist, gather any dental records you can find, including x-rays. Be sure to also bring insurance information and any other pertinent papers to the appointment.

Prepare Your Family Health History

Your dentist may want to know about your family health history, because it may impact the advice and recommendations that they give you. Your dentist may ask about anything from gum disease to heart disease and cancer. It is important to keep your dentist informed, so be sure to gather as much information as possible before a visit to the dentist.

Find Out if You’ll Need an Antibiotic

When you have a teeth cleaning, the bacteria that are in your mouth can get into the bloodstream. This is very common and safe — if you’re healthy. For certain groups of people, there is a concern that the bacteria could cause an infection elsewhere in the body. This includes people who have had recent surgeries or medical procedures, or have any kind of health issue that compromises the strength their immune system. If you are one of these people, you may need to ask your dentist for an antibiotic prior to your appointment to combat against the bacteria and a potential infection.

Additionally, let the dentist know if you are on any prescription medications. Some prescription medications can cause dry mouth. When your mouth is producing less saliva, the friction in your mouth increases, and plaque is not washed away as it should be during a cleaning.

Come Ready with Notes and Questions

Before a cleaning, write down any questions you have for the dentist or dental hygienist, so you do not forget them once you arrive. Also write down any problems you have had with your gums or teeth in between visits. Try to remember if you have experienced any pain or sensitivity in your mouth since your last visit. The dental hygienist and dentist will likely ask you these things, and if you can’t remember, they will not be able to help you.

Don’t Change Your Routine

Many people tend to increase their flossing, brushing, and mouthwash routine right before visiting the dentist for a cleaning. However, doing this may actually be harmful for your oral health. Ramping up your dental care routine right before a cleaning does not reverse damage that may have been done from improper hygiene in between visits. It can also inflame soft tissue and cause gum recession. It is also important not to whiten your teeth right before a cleaning. Whitening your teeth will make it harder for the dentist to see problem areas. Keep the brushing, flossing, swishing, and whitening on par with your normal levels. Your dentist is there to help you achieve good oral health, not judge you on your flossing habits.

What to do After a Teeth Cleaning

After a teeth cleaning, make sure to schedule your next appointment. You should be visiting the dentist for a cleaning at least twice a year. Make sure you are maintaining your oral hygiene in between visits, with regular brushing and flossing. Remember, your dental hygiene and oral health are important parts of your overall well-being.

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