Most people should see the dentist approximately every 6 months for a professional cleaning. A good cleaning removes tartar, which helps prevent cavities and gum disease.
If you've skipped a few cleaning appointments, there is no need to be ashamed. This happens to a lot of people, sometimes for financial reasons or because they've moved and struggled to find a new dentist. The important thing is that you get back in there for a cleaning appointment as soon as you're able. Here's what you can expect at your first cleaning appointment in several years.
It might be a little painful.
You won't experience searing pain during your dental cleaning, but it may not be as comfortable as the cleanings you've had in the past. When you wait too long between cleanings, you may get a lot more tartar along your gumline. The tartar harbors bacteria, which make your gums a bit sensitive. So, when your dental hygienist scrapes the tartar from the gumline, it can be a bit sensitive. If the pain becomes too much, let your hygienist know. They might apply a numbing gel to keep you more comfortable.
You might bleed.
It's not uncommon for patients to develop minor gingivitis, which is an inflammation of the gums, when they've gone a while without a professional cleaning. This makes your gums more likely to bleed when the hygienist scrapes and polishes your teeth. Don't worry -- they'll have you rinse your mouth with an antiseptic rinse to slow the bleeding and prevent future infections.
Your hygienist may recommend a deep cleaning.
Depending on the condition of your teeth and gums, your hygienist may recommend that you return to the office for a deep cleaning appointment. This is a more involved dental cleaning in which the hygienist cleans under the edges of your gums. You'll probably be given local anesthesia for the procedure since it's more painful than a typical cleaning. If you have excessive tartar buildup or are showing signs of gum disease, you may need to come back twice and have half of your mouth deep cleaned at each visit.
Your hygienist may give you brushing and flossing feedback.
When you go to the dentist after having not been for a while, it will be very obvious to your hygienist which areas you're brushing well and which you are skipping. They will probably give you some feedback on your at-home hygiene, such as pointing out areas where you need to spend more time, or teeth you have not been flossing between as thoroughly.
Contact a clinic like The Downtown Dental Clinic for more information.