The overall aim of a professional teeth cleaning is to remove accumulated plaque, stains and tartar (calculus) from the surface of the teeth. Tartar develops even when you take proper care of your mouth with regular brushing and flossing. Regular dental cleanings are vital for maintaining optimum oral hygiene and keeping track of your oral health. More recent medical research points to plaque and calculus, removed with a dental cleaning, that if not removed, can cause inflammation that may contribute to heart disease, memory loss, kidney disease, or potentially infection of an artificial hip or knee.

The majority of dentists agree that professional teeth cleanings should be done every six months. Some people require cleanings every 3 or 4 months to remove a heavy buildup of calculus.  Here’s an overview of what you can expect during a tooth cleaning when you visit our office.


First, your dental hygienist will perform a comprehensive dental examination of your teeth and oral health condition. A diagnosis will be made by Drs. Leonard or David Gordon.  He looks for signs of cavities, gum disease and oral cancer. After confirming the state of your oral health, Dr. Gordon determines what type of cleaning you’ll need. He might also recommend other services based on anything that was discovered during the initial assessment. Dr. Gordon will perform a detailed manual overview and decide which   X-ray procedures are necessary to aid in the diagnosis of teeth or gum health or pathology.

Different types of dental cleaning

Our certified dental hygienists employ a variety of teeth cleaning methods to suit the personal needs of every patient. The initial assessment helps the dentist determine which type of cleaning you will benefit from the most.

Basic cleaning

The traditional dental cleaning procedure removes the tough plaque and tartar deposits that toothbrushes aren’t capable of scrubbing away. It’s used for patients with minimal build up on their teeth and no signs of gum disease or other oral health issues. The dental hygienist uses specialized tools to remove this build up without causing harm to the teeth or gums. Our dental tools are submitted to extensive sterilizing to ensure your safety. Everything used in your mouth is either single use disposable or sterilized in an autoclave.

First, an ultrasonic device may be  used to break up large chunks or tarter with an intense vibrating motion. This tool also sprays bursts of water to rinse the debris away. The ends of the ultrasonic instrument are round and curved, and the intensity of the vibration can be adjusted for your comfort. In addition to this special tool, the dental hygienist uses a mirror for inspecting areas that are hard to see. A dental mirror is also used for sighting indications of swelling, irritation or bleeding

After the larger pieces of plaque and tartar have been removed, the dental hygienist switches to finer manual instruments. Commonly referred to as scalers, these tools work to remove build up from tight spaces between the teeth and to smooth out the surfaces. The hygienist takes the time to scrape each individual tooth to make sure nothing is left behind. When this process is complete, your teeth will be polished.

A dental hand piece with a soft rubber cup on the tip and slow rotating speed is used in conjunction with a sand-like toothpaste to polish your teeth. The toothpaste, called prophylaxis, is inserted into the cup, and as the cup rotates, the paste spins on the tooth surfaces to give them a nice shine.

When the polishing is complete, a fluoride treatment is sometimes added as a last measure of protection. This procedure is reserved for children, cavity prone adults,  or adults with exposed roots or teeth sensitivity.  Available in different flavors, the fluoride solution is placed on the patient’s teeth as a thick coating with instructions not to eat anything chewy or crunchy or drink any hot liquids for 3 hours.

Full mouth debridement

If your teeth have not been cleaned by a professional dentist in over a year or more, Drs. Leonard or David Gordon may recommend a full mouth debridement. The process is the same as a basic cleaning, but a micro ultrasonic tool is used instead. This gets a lot of the big chunks of calculus off, but it is necessary to let the gums heal and come back a few weeks later to remove smaller pieces not previously seen.

Scaling and root planning

Scaling and root planning is necessary when the calculus or tartar has accumulated for so long that it is now on the root surfaces. It adheres deep and very strong. Frequently Drs. Leonard or David Gordon needs to anesthetize that portion of the mouth being scaled and root planed so calculus can be removed deep under the gum. Sometimes, an antibiotic powder is placed into the deepest spots.

Periodontal maintenance

This method is reserved for those who have undergone a treatment for a periodontal disease. It is used to maintain the outcome of the initial treatment, and it is recommended to return for this cleaning every 3 to 4 months weeks.

If you have any questions at all regarding the importance of maintaining optimum oral health our general dentistry services or any of our other professional dental services please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at the Gordon Center for General and Advanced Dentistry. We’re more than happy to help.,