You need to see your dentist regularly. For most, that means coming in for a cleaning and checkup twice a year. But what if it’s been a while? You might not be sure of what happens during a dental hygiene appointment, or be apprehensive about the process. Before you head to the dental office, you should brush up on what may take place so that you aren’t surprised.

The Check-In

The first thing that happens once you check in and make sure that all of your personal and medical information is up-to-date, is that the hygienist will come take you to their room. Most dental offices have hygienists to perform your cleaning, though there may be times when the dentist themselves will complete your hygiene. The hygienist will then ask you some questions, like if you feel any pain or discomfort or if anything has changed. Once you have answered these questions, it’s time for the next step.


If it’s been a while since you last saw a dentist, you will need x-rays. X-rays allow your dentist to see what is going in inside, in between, and below the surface of your teeth. Visual inspection alone only shows your dentist about 40% of what they need to see to make an accurate assessment of your dental health, so x-rays are a necessary part of good care. It’s a fairly fast process, and most offices utilize digital x-rays which create much less radiation than traditional x-rays, and do not require any time to develop. 

The Cleaning

It is always the goal of your hygienist to not only get your teeth as clean as possible, but to keep you comfortable while doing so. If you’re someone who experiences a lot of sensitivity during a cleaning and are a bit worried about discomfort, you can always ask the hygienist to some apply topical anesthetic to your gums. Your cleaning will consist of scraping (scaling) any plaque that the hygienist sees along your gumline. They may hand scale manually, or utilize an ultrasonic tool to do so. They will also polish and floss your teeth, and may take periodontal charting – checking the depth of any pockets and the health of the attachment of your teeth along the gumline.

The Exam

Once the hygienist finishes, they usually give you a verbal report of what they’ve seen and what can be improved. Perhaps you need to floss more often, or there’s a particular area that could use more attention with your home care. After that, it’s time to see dentist who will perform a physical exam of your mouth, and will review your x-rays and any findings with you. 

Once your appointment is complete, your hygienist or perhaps the receptionist will schedule you for your next appointment at the appropriate interval. For most it will be recommended to be seen again in six months, but for others four and even three month intervals may be advisable. Whatever the case for you, regular hygiene appointments and exams are the best thing you can do to keep your mouth healthy, and to help prevent and identify any dental health issues. As they say: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

Are you looking for dental offices in your area? Reach out to one of our highly qualified team members to schedule your first appointment with us at White Dental Studio. We’d love to be your new dental home!

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