Have you ever wondered what’s with all the tools your dental hygienist is sticking in your mouth? You’ve probably felt some of them. The scraping sounds, the touch of cool metal, and the occasional poke at your gums doesn’t tell you as much as seeing them does though. All you usually get is a quick glance as the tool heads towards your mouth, so let’s take a closer look.
Part of why it’s so important to come in for regular cleaning is because you generally can’t see every part of your teeth to clean them. Truth be told, we can’t either, or at least we can’t without mirrors. That’s why we use a small mirror to look at the backs of your teeth and the oral tissue towards the back of your mouth. That’s not their only purpose though. As you know, mirrors are reflective surfaces. We use the light they reflect to more easily see things like calculus (tartar) deposits.
That scraping sound and feeling you’ve become familiar with at your appointments comes from the scalers we use to clean your teeth. There are two general types of scalers that get used for dental cleanings. One is your basic, hand-held metal scaler that has two ends: a pointed end for the tooth above the gumline, and a blunt end for getting below the gumline without damaging the gums themselves. The other type of scaler is an ultrasonic scaler. This type of scaler uses a spray of water to rinse your mouth and keep the tip of the scaler from getting too hot.
Polishers are used to help your teeth stay beautifully white and shiny. They’re one of the last things we use when we’re cleaning your teeth. A low-speed rotary electric polishing tool is fitted with a small rubber cup. This is what the polishing paste is applied to. The paste is a bit abrasive, which allows it to smooth your teeth and give them a nice polish.
It never hurts to be more informed about what goes into keeping your teeth clean. Plus, if you happen to suffer from a little bit of dentist visit-driven anxiety, getting a little more familiar with the tools that we’ll be using could help you feel a little less stressed. Now that’s something to look forward to.
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