What Is the Difference Between Dental Cleaning and Dental Polishing?

No one likes dealing with dental issues, whether they are mild toothaches or major gum line issues. When your oral health is affected, you lose the ability to enjoy ordinary activities in life, such as talking properly, enjoying your favorite foods and beverages, etc. Your smile, and more importantly, your quality of life, deteriorates when your dental health is suffering.

Hence, your dentist will suggest that you get dental treatments that are directed toward providing you with preventive care. While preventative dentistry encompasses a wide range of dental treatments and procedures, dental cleaning and polishing are the two most frequented procedures that are recommended for good oral health.

However, some people are confused between the terms “dental cleaning” and “dental polishing.” Since both of these terms are within the realm of professional dental hygiene and are carried out at the dentist’s office, they are often erroneously associated with one another. Thus, let us help clear your misperceptions by explaining the difference between dental cleaning and dental polishing.

What is Dental Cleaning?

At first glance, the term “dental cleaning” is perceived as an agonizing and uncomfortable dental procedure. However, this is not the case. Dental cleaning is a basic procedure that focuses on cleaning your gum line and eliminating plaque and tartar that have built up around your teeth. To better understand these routine cleanings, we asked our dentist to explain what dental cleanings include. Provided below is a brief overview of this dental procedure:

Note: This treatment is usually carried out either by a general dentist or a dental hygienist.

Step 1: Initially, one of these dental care experts, often a dental hygienist, will inspect your mouth to look for any other serious dental problems that may be present in your teeth and gums. Once you are cleared of these inspections, then the dentist or dental hygienist will proceed with the cleaning treatment.

Step 2: After you have received the green light to proceed with the treatment, the dentist or hygienist will use a periodontal device known as a scalar to remove the tartar and plaque along your gum line. The scalar will also be used in the interdental spaces between your teeth.

Step 3: Now that your teeth are cleared of all the plaque and tartar, The hygienist will proceed to use an electric toothbrush and toothpaste to deep clean your teeth. No, this is not the same as brushing your teeth at home.

Step 4: You may not know, but despite carrying out extensive measures to clean your teeth, there can still be some leftover food and debris stuck in the nooks and corners of your mouth. Thus, the dental expert will now commence in-depth flossing with the water flosser to get a perfectly clean tooth. This treatment will also be followed by a liquid rinse (enriched with fluoride).

Step 5: Finally, fluoride treatment is applied to your mouth. The target objective of this segment of the dental cleaning procedure is to restore minerals to the enamel of your tooth (which was previously eroded by bacteria).

To understand the differences between dental cleaning and dental polishing, we need to ascertain the benefits of both treatments. Listed below are the major advantages of performing dental cleanings.

Benefits of Dental Cleaning:

The Risks of Not Getting Your Teeth Cleaned on a Regular Basis:

You may believe that dental cleaning is the same as practicing your oral hygiene at home, therefore you will not need it.

This is wrong!

Dental cleaning entails a thorough cleaning of your gums and teeth. They assist you in removing the stubborn layers of plaque and tartar that have accumulated on the tooth enamel. These plaque layers are impossible to eradicate with ordinary brushing, flossing, and mouth rinsing. You will require dental intervention to defend your teeth and gums from perceived attacks such as gum disease or infection.

Listed below are some of the risks of not getting your teeth cleaned regularly:

  • Tooth decay
  • Dental Cavities
  • Erosion of Gum Tissues
  • Gum Diseases or Periodontal Diseases
  • Inflamed gums
  • Premature tooth loss

What is Dental Polishing?

Dental polishing refers to the process of smoothing the enamel of your teeth and giving you a shiny smile. Along with producing a smooth surface for your teeth, dental polishing can also help in reducing the prospect of oral accretions, such as calculus deposits, plaque, and other extrinsic stains, impeding your smile.

Often, dental polishing is used to finish other aesthetic and restorative dental treatments, including dental crowns and bridges, dental implants, and more. The purpose of this treatment is to help you embrace your brightened and transformed smile.

Did you know?

At times, dental polishing is also used in addition to professional cleaning. This means that when your teeth have been inspected for cavities and decay, have undergone a fluoride treatment, and are now professionally cleaned, the dentist might suggest a teeth polishing treatment. Hence, when your teeth have been polished and smoothed, bacteria will find it difficult to stick to your squeaky-clean teeth.

Let us look at the process of tooth polishing:

Step 1: Similar to dental cleaning, once the initial oral examination is complete, the remnants of tartar buildup are scraped. This will ensure that your teeth are clean and prepared for dental polishing.

Step 2: With a motorized dental instrument, the surface of your teeth is polished until it is smooth and shiny. Also, with the help of the airflow polishing technique, the dentist will be able to make sure that all sides and corners of your teeth are smoothed out as much as possible.

Step 3: Finally, the teeth are polished and flossed. Additionally, as a means of completing the dental treatment, the dentist will also apply fluoride to your teeth to protect them from bacteria and staining

Because dental polishing is performed after a dental cleaning, the risks of not having teeth polishing treatment are the same as those of not having teeth cleaning. However, to weigh the differences between both dental polishing and dental cleaning, you must also be aware of the benefits of dental polishing.

Benefits of Dental polishing:

Dental Polishing vs Dental Cleaning:

Dental cleaning and polishing are similar and synergistic procedures. They reflect the term “dental hygiene” in the context of dental treatments that are prevalent in general dentistry and preventative dentistry.

Another similarity between the two treatments is that they both involve comparable procedural steps, such as oral examination and fluoride treatments. Let’s take a closer look at the characteristics that distinguish them.

Discomfort and Pain:

Since dental cleaning is performed with ultrasonic dental equipment, there might be some possibility that you may experience mild pain. However, dental polishing is considerably less painful than the former treatment; this is because it is done with rubber cups.

The Aesthetic Factor:

The primary distinction between dental cleaning and dental polishing is that while dental cleaning focuses on removing plaque and tartar from your teeth, dental polishing aims to enhance the cosmetic function of your smile.

Treatment Type:

While teeth cleaning can be done on its own, teeth polishing can be paired with a variety of additional orthodontic or aesthetic procedures. It is sometimes included as part of the scaling and root planning procedure.

Thus, both dental cleaning and dental polishing are equally important treatments since they complement each other. Furthermore, teeth polishing may be viewed as an extension of teeth cleaning techniques, implying that the combination of the two constitutes dental hygiene.

Remember to visit your dentist on a regular basis and have your teeth cleaned. This will help reduce the likelihood of complexities arising in your dental cleaning procedures.