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Professional Teeth Cleaning

Last updated Feb. 22, 2018

Approved by: Krish Tangella MD, MBA, FCAP

stockimages - FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Professional Teeth Cleaning is a simple, quick, and often painless process that involves eliminating food debris, stains, plaque, and tartar formed on the surface of teeth and gums over a period of time.


Background Information:

What are the other Names for the Procedure?

  • Odontexesis
  • Teeth Cleaning Process

What is Professional Teeth Cleaning?

Professional Teeth Cleaning is a simple, quick, and often painless process that involves eliminating food debris, stains, plaque, and tartar formed on the surface of teeth and gums over a period of time. This routine procedure is typically performed by a dentist/dental hygienist.

What part of the Body does the Procedure involve?

Professional Teeth Cleaning involves the entire set of teeth within the mouth.

Why is the Professional Teeth Cleaning Performed?

Professional Teeth Cleaning is performed to remove plaque, tartar, and discoloration formed on teeth, to improve one’s overall cosmetic appearance.

  • It can bring to notice any area that require special attention or help address early tooth problems. By doing so, it can also be an early indicator of disease elsewhere in the body
  • It supplements cleaning (brushing/flossing) and oral care at home
  • The procedure can help prevent tooth loss, early and late gum disease that in turn helps prevent complications arising from diabetes, heart conditions, or dementia
  • It helps reach areas that are not readily accessible via regular cleaning, such as molars at the back of the mouth
  • Valuable dental/oral education on how to keep mouth clean and teeth healthy may be obtained following the procedure

What are some Alternative Choices for the Procedure?

Currently, there are no specific alternatives to Professional Teeth Cleaning.

What are the Recent Advances in the Procedure?

There are no recent advances in the field of Professional Teeth Cleaning.

What is the Cost of performing the Professional Teeth Cleaning?

The cost of Professional Teeth Cleaning procedure depends on a variety of factors, such as the type of your health insurance, annual deductibles, co-pay requirements, out-of-network and in-network of your healthcare providers and healthcare facilities.

In many cases, an estimate may be provided before the procedure. The final amount depends upon the findings during the surgery/procedure and post-operative care that is necessary.

When do you need a Second Opinion, prior to the Procedure?

  • It is normal for a patient to feel uncomfortable and confused by the information regarding Professional Teeth Cleaning procedure and on what needs to be done
  • If the patient needs further reassurance or a second opinion, a physician will almost always assist and also recommend another physician, if required
  • Also, if the procedure involves multiple surgeries or has many alternatives, the patient may take a second opinion to understand and choose the best one. They can also choose to approach another physician independently

What are some Helpful Resources?

Complete Guide to Symptoms, Illness & Surgery; Written by H Winter Griffith, M.D.; Revised and updated by Stephen Moore, M.D. and Kenneth Yoder, M.D.; The Berkley Publishing Group, 5th Edition, New York, 2006

https://www.deltadentalins.com/oral_health/spring_clean.html (accessed on 01/02/2018)

https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/basics/dental-visits/deep-cleaning-your-teeth-when-to-do-it-0314 (accessed on 01/02/2018)

Prior to Professional Teeth Cleaning:

How is the Professional Teeth Cleaning Performed?

Professional Teeth Cleaning may be undertaken in any of the following manner:

  • The dentist undertakes a complete physical exam of the mouth. If early gum disease is noted, then it is treated prior to cleaning
  • Scaling:
    • Hard deposits (calculus/plaque/tartar) formed on the dental surface are removed or scraped using special hand-held instruments
    • Depending on the level of difficulty, sometimes electrical ultrasound devices are used to dislodge the formations
    • A stream of water is allowed to wash the areas while the scaling process is undertaken
  • Polishing:
    • A bright shiny look is given to teeth using a special abrading instrument (an electric brush)
    • The polishing prevents the easy attachment of food particles and tartar accumulation on tooth/gum surfaces
    • This process can also help remove stains
  • Debridement: To remove excess tartar, if necessary
  • Fluoride treatment: A flavored fluoride solution (gel or rinse) is applied to teeth which can help resist attack by harmful acids that contribute to tooth decay

The individual may experience prodding of teeth/gums, clanking noises, and discomfort of jaw or neck during the procedure.

Where is the Procedure Performed?

Professional Teeth Cleaning procedure is usually performed in a dentist clinic or office.

Who Performs the Procedure?

A dentist or dental hygienist usually performs the Professional Teeth Cleaning.

How long will the Procedure take?

The time taken for the Professional Teeth Cleaning can range from 1-1.5 hours and usually only one session is required. However, in some cases, several sessions may be necessary to achieve the desired results.

What do you need to tell your Physician before the Procedure?

It is very important to provide the following information to your healthcare provider. This enables your healthcare provider in assessing the risks for the Professional Teeth Cleaning procedure and helps avoid unnecessary complications.

  • Provide a complete list of medications you are currently taking to your physician. This information is useful for a variety of reasons. For example, it can help your healthcare provider prevent complications due to a drug interaction
  • If you are allergic to any specific medication or food items
  • If you are taking blood thinners such as aspirin, warfarin, herbal supplements, or any other such medications
  • If you or your family members have a history of bleeding disorders, or if there is a tendency to bleed more than normal
  • If you have diabetes, high blood pressure, chest pains, or have previously suffered from a heart attack
  • If you have ever been diagnosed with blood clots in your leg (deep vein thrombosis) or lung (embolism of lung)
  • If you have a history of frequent bone fractures (this may affect bone-healing if bones are involved as part of your procedure)
  • A list of all previous surgical procedures you have undergone, for example: Removal of appendix, gallbladder, or any other part, of your body; surgical repair of any body part, such as hernia repair, perforation of bowel wall, etc.

What Preparations are needed, prior to the Procedure?

  • The physician may evaluate the individual’s medical history to gain a comprehensive knowledge of the overall health status of the patient including information related to the medications that are currently being taken
  • Some medications increase a person’s chances of bleeding and it may be recommended to discontinue them for a period of time before the procedure is performed
  • Inform the physician if you are allergic to any local anesthetics, lidocaine, etc.
  • Avoid application of any cosmetics, deodorant, or topical medicines on the area prior to the procedure
  • It is advisable to quit smoking and the use of any nicotine based products for a while before the surgery
  • Consumption of alcoholic drinks must also be avoided for a period of time, as instructed
  • The patient must avoid eating or drinking at least 8 hours prior to the surgical procedure, depending on when the procedure is arranged
  • For individuals suffering from diabetes, it is important that the blood sugar stays within the normal range; if not, their diabetologist may have to control blood sugar by recommending insulin and/or a combination of oral medicines

Pregnant women and individuals with severe/major underlying sicknesses are advised not to undertake this procedure. The dental professional will advise if you are a candidate for the procedure.

What is the Consent Process before the Procedure?

A physician will request your consent for Professional Teeth Cleaning procedure using an Informed Consent Form.

Consent for the Procedure: A “consent” is your approval to undergo a procedure. A consent form is signed after the risks and benefits of the procedure, and alternative treatment options, are discussed. This process is called informed consent.

You must sign the forms only after you are totally satisfied by the answers to your questions. In case of minors and individuals unable to personally give their consent, the individual’s legal guardian or next of kin, shall give their consent for the procedure.

Note: In case of OTC products used at home for cosmetic enhancement, there is no question of a consent form. However, when the process is undertaken at a medical facility, consent may be required.

What Tests are needed, before the Professional Teeth Cleaning?

In many cases, no tests are typically necessary prior to a Professional Teeth Cleaning. However, if required, the dentist may recommend the following tests such as:

  • Routine blood and urine analysis
  • X-ray of the mouth

Before the procedure, any dental issues may have to be addressed such as dental cavities or gum disease.

What are some Questions for your Physician?

Some of the basic questions that you might ask your physician are as follows:

  • What is a Professional Teeth Cleaning procedure?
  • Why is this procedure necessary?  How will it help?
  • How soon should I get it done? Is it an emergency?
  • Who are the medical personnel involved in this procedure?
  • Where is the procedure performed?
  • What are the risks while performing the procedure?
  • What are the complications that might take place during recovery?
  • How long will it take to recover? When can I resume normal work?
  • How many such procedures have you (the physician) performed?
  • Are there any follow-up tests or periodic visits to the healthcare facility required, after the procedure?
  • What are the costs involved?

During the Professional Teeth Cleaning:

What kind of Anesthesia is given, during the Procedure?

There is no anesthesia administered during the procedure.

How much Blood will you lose, during the Procedure?

There is no blood loss involved during the Professional Teeth Cleaning.

What are the possible Risks and Complications during the Professional Teeth Cleaning?

There are general factors that increase the risk of getting complications during surgery and they include:

  • Obesity: Generally, the greater the degree of obesity, the greater the surgical risk
  • Smoking: The longer the smoking history (in pack years smoked), the greater the surgical risk
  • Advancing age
  • Poorly controlled diabetes, as evidenced by a high hemoglobin A1c and a high fasting glucose
  • Poorly functioning kidney, as evidenced by increased BUN (blood urea nitrogen) and blood creatinine
  • Poorly functioning liver, as evidenced by increased blood liver function tests
  • Hypertension (increased blood pressure), especially if it is poorly controlled
  • Poor nutritional status (malnutrition with mineral and vitamin deficiencies)
  • Poor lung function, as evidenced by abnormal lung function tests
  • History of bleeding disorders
  • Longstanding illness, such as autoimmune disorders and chronic infections
  • Poor immune system due to a variety of causes

The possible risks or complications that may arise during the Professional Teeth Cleaning are:

  • The technique may be ineffective when causative factors for discolored teeth include cancer therapy, use of medication, or trauma
  • The desired results may not be achieved in a single sitting

What Post-Operative Care is needed at the Healthcare Facility after the Professional Teeth Cleaning?

At the healthcare facility, usually there is no requirement for any post-procedure care, unless any complications arise.

After the Professional Teeth Cleaning:

What are the possible Risks and Complications after the Professional Teeth Cleaning?

Risks and complications after a Professional Teeth Cleaning procedure are generally not noted. However, in some cases, the individual may experience the following:

  • Pain of gums, soft mouth tissues, and tongue
  • Mild gum irritation may be noted that resolve in a few days
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Some peroxides may cause burns to the gums and oral cavity tissue, if they are not adequately protected
  • Sometimes, brown or gray teeth may not be fully restored

What is the Prognosis after the Surgery?

The prognosis after a Professional Teeth Cleaning is usually excellent and no ‘after care’ is generally required.

  • However, it is not permanent and the process may have to be repeated regularly
  • Since the procedure is an important preventative health measure, it is advisable to have the procedure performed at intervals, as recommended by your dental professional

In general, the process is recommended every 6 months by many dental professionals.

When do you need to call your Physician?

Severe side effects are very few and unlikely following the procedure. Nevertheless, do contact your physician if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Pain involving the tongue or gums that worsen: Usually no pain is felt, but some discomfort may be noted after the process. If required, prescribed pain medications can be taken
  • Severe tooth sensitivity: Temporary tooth sensitivity may be usually noted, which can be reduced using gel-based fluoride toothpastes
  • Swelling around the gums and teeth
  • The occurrence of any symptom that causes uneasiness such as nausea or vomiting
  • Signs of an infection
  • Headache
  • Fever, feeling sick

What Post-Operative Care is needed at Home after the Professional Teeth Cleaning?

At home, the following post-operative care is recommended after a Professional Teeth Cleaning procedure:

  • Avoid staining food items (such as soft drinks, wine, coffee, etc.) for a period of time; use straw, if you need to drink these
  • Avoid smoking or chewing tobacco
  • Some tooth sensitivity may be experienced, so individuals are advised to avoid very hot or cold food items for a few days following the procedure
  • Eat healthy food rich in vegetables and whole grains
  • Brush and floss regularly after taking food, or twice daily

How long does it normally take to fully recover, from the Procedure?

Typically, there is no recovery period involved, in a majority of cases. However, if there is significant bleeding or periodontal disease, it may be recommended to avoid hot and cold foods, for multiple hours after the procedure.

Additional Information:

What happens to tissue (if any), taken out during the Procedure?

Generally, the procedure does not involve the surgical removal of any tissue.

When should you expect results from the pathologist regarding tissue taken out, during the Procedure?

Usually, no tissue is sent for a pathological analysis.

Who will you receive a Bill from, after the Professional Teeth Cleaning?

It is important to note that the number of bills that the patient may receive depends on the arrangement the healthcare facility has with the physician and other healthcare providers.

Sometimes, the patient may get a single bill that includes the healthcare facility and the consultant physician charges. Sometimes, the patient might get multiple bills depending on the healthcare provider involved. For instance, the patient may get a bill from:

  • An out-patient surgery center facility, the dentist or oral surgeon’s clinic/office, or a hospital
  • An anesthesiologist (if anesthesia was administered)
  • A dentist or dental hygienist

The patient is advised to inquire and confirm the type of billing, before the Professional Teeth Cleaning procedure is performed.

Thanks and Gratitude:

We sincerely acknowledge and thank Dr. Douglas J. Jones for reviewing the article. His valuable input and feedback has helped enrich the contents of this article.

Douglas J. Jones, MD FACS
Board Certified General Surgeon and Faculty Member
University of Illinois, College of Medicine at Urbana-Champaign
506 S. Mathews Ave., Urbana, IL 61801, USA

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: Feb. 22, 2018
Last updated: Feb. 22, 2018