Teeth Cleaning vs. Teeth Polishing: Do You Know the Difference?

Polishing and Whitening
Teeth polishing vs. Teeth Cleaning

You’ve been to the dentist, so you know that wonderful feeling when you walk out of the office after an appointment and run your tongue across your freshly cleaned and polished teeth.

But wait, cleaned and polished? Yes!

Most people don’t realize that there are multiple steps when it comes to caring for your teeth at your semi-annual dentist visit.

Tooth Cleaning

Tooth cleaning is the initial step in the tooth care process. The professional name for a cleaning is “prophylaxis” (“prophy” for short), and it is all about actually cleaning your teeth—removing plaque buildup.

During a teeth cleaning, we use special dental hand tools like the picks and scalers to get the hardened plaque called calculus off of your teeth and away from your gumline. This further reduces your risk for tooth decay and periodontal irritation that can progress to gingivitis or more advanced levels of gum disease.

Tooth Polishing

Tooth cleaning removes plaque; tooth polishing aims to prevent it. Using the familiar tool with a spinning head covered by a rubber cup, we spread a grittier than normal toothpaste around your teeth before it is rinsed off.

Tooth polishing can remove surface stains, but the primary benefit of tooth polishing is that it makes the surface of your teeth smoother. A smooth surface makes it more difficult for bacteria (and their biofilm, plaque) to cling to your tooth.

Tooth is not always a part of a regular dental checkup because other dental or periodontal conditions. Your dentist will let you know you are a good candidate for tooth polishing.

Keeping Your Teeth Healthy

Teeth cleaning and polishing are the primary maintenance and preventive work done during a semi-annual dental visit. Proper at-home oral hygiene can help make sure that teeth cleaning and polishing are the extent of the professional dental care you need. Twice daily brushing and flossing not only limit the time your hygienist needs to scale your teeth, it also reduces your risk of cavities and gingivitis.