• Dr. Maryam Motlagh, D.M.D

Dental Exams and Cleanings: What to Expect

Updated: Aug 27, 2019



Daily brushing and flossing are important components of any dental hygiene routine. But for the most comprehensive oral care, patients should also attend dental exam and cleaning appointments every six months. These general dentistry services enable us to identify oral health problems early and reduce the risk of dental problems by removing damaging plaque and tartar from the teeth.


What Happens During a Dental Exam?

Digital X-rays

We take digital X-rays during dental appointments. These X-rays reduce the amount of radiation exposure for patients. In addition, the X-ray images can be displayed on the computer screen in our exam rooms, allowing Dr. Motlagh to enlarge the images and show you any areas of concern that have developed.

For new patients at our practice, we will take a full set of X-rays. Following your initial appointment, we may take smaller, alternating sets of follow-up X-rays to monitor your oral health.


Visual Exam

Look for any signs of redness, swelling, and bleeding of the gums, which could indicate the presence of gum disease.Measure the depth of periodontal pockets; large pockets are an indication of gum disease.Check for signs of tooth decay using a small metal probe.Evaluate your bite alignment; problems with the bite can contribute to temporomandibular disorder and bruxism.Check the lymph nodes, tongue, cheeks, lips, and other soft tissues for signs of oral cancer.


Your Unique Analysis

After we have reviewed your dental X-rays and performed your visual exam, Dr. Motlagh will discuss any areas of concern we have found. She may recommend techniques to improve your at-home oral hygiene, or she may recommend restorative treatment to improve the health and function of the teeth and gums.


Professional Dental Cleaning

Dental cleaning involves several steps to thoroughly remove built up plaque and tartar and superficial stains.


First, we use a combination of special dental tools, water irrigation, and suction to remove plaque and tartar from the surface of the teeth. We then methodically move from tooth to tooth, addressing the front and back of the teeth to scrape away debris and flush it out of the mouth. Special attention is paid to the gum line, back molars, and between the teeth. These areas are more difficult to clean and are especially vulnerable to dental health problems.


Once we have loosened or removed most of the plaque and tartar, we will floss the teeth to remove any additional debris that remains between the teeth or at the gum line.


Finally, we will polish the teeth to remove surface stains and finish your professional dental cleaning.