Dental Tools and Techniques Used During Teeth Cleanings

How Dentists Clean Your Teeth

Dental cleanings are an essential aspect of maintaining oral health and preventing cavities, gum disease, and bad breath. It involves removing plaque, tartar, and other debris from the teeth and gums. Dentists and dental hygienists use various tools and techniques to ensure a thorough and effective cleaning.

Our Luck dental professionals provide insights into the dental tools and instruments used during teeth cleanings, as well as the different techniques.

young woman getting her teeth examined at the dentist

Tools and Techniques Used for Dental Cleanings

Scaling and Root Planing

Scaling and root planing are two common techniques used to remove plaque and tartar from the teeth and gums. Scaling involves removing the buildup of plaque and tartar above the gum line, while root planing smooths out the rough surfaces on the roots of the teeth to prevent further plaque buildup.

It’s often recommended for those suffering from early-stage gum disease. In most cases, the effects of early-stage gum disease can be reversed with scaling and root planing.

Polishing Tool

Polishing is the process of smoothing and shining the teeth’s surfaces after scaling and root planing. With a polishing tool, your dentist will polish the teeth after removing excess plaque, and tartar. This process makes it harder for plaque and tartar to form and accumulate on the teeth, which helps prevent tooth decay and gum disease.

Dental Explorer

A dental explorer is commonly used during oral exams to detect tooth decay, gum disease, and other oral health problems. It’s a thin, sharp, pointed tool with a flexible, angled tip that allows the dentist or dental hygienist to reach and probe areas that are difficult to see or access.

During an exam, the dentist or dental hygienist will use the explorer to gently probe the teeth and gums to check for any signs of decay or disease. They may also use it to check the depth of any cavities or pockets in the gums.

Dental Scaler

A dental scaler is a tool used to remove plaque and tartar from the teeth. It has a hooked end that allows it to reach under the gumline to remove debris that brushing and flossing can’t remove.

Dental scalers come in different shapes and sizes to accommodate different areas of the mouth and teeth. They’re usually made of stainless steel and are sterilized before and after each use to prevent the spread of infection.

During a dental cleaning, the dental hygienist will use a scaler to remove any hard deposits of plaque and tartar that have accumulated on the teeth. They’ll use the pointed or curved tip of the scaler to scrape away the buildup from the tooth surface and the gumline.

dentist using a variety of dental tools during treatment

Ultrasonic Scaler

An ultrasonic scaler is a dental tool that uses high-frequency vibrations to remove plaque and tartar from the teeth. This tool is faster and more efficient than manual scaling and can reduce the time needed for cleaning.

Dental Mirrors

Dental mirrors are used in dentistry to help dentists and dental hygienists visualize areas of the mouth that are difficult to see with the naked eye. They’re small, handheld mirrors with angled heads, small frames, and long handles.

During a dental exam, a dental mirror is used to reflect light and view the front and back surfaces of teeth, gums, and other areas inside the mouth. It helps the dentist or dental hygienist to get a better view of the teeth and gums, detect any problems or abnormalities, and make an accurate diagnosis.


A curette is a curved tool used by dental professionals to remove plaque and tartar from below the gum line. It has a sharp, hook-like tip that allows your dentist or dental hygienist to scrape away the buildup from the roots of the teeth. This tool is essential in preventing gum disease and maintaining healthy gums. Using a curette during a dental cleaning can remove any buildup that one can’t reach through regular brushing and flossing.

Suction Device

A suction device, also known as a dental suction or saliva ejector, is a tool used to remove saliva, water, and debris from the mouth during dental procedures. It’s a small, handheld device that consists of a soft, flexible tube with a suction tip at the end.

The suction device is inserted into the patient’s mouth and the suction tip is placed near the area being worked on. The dentist or dental hygienist will use the device to remove saliva and other fluids from the mouth, as well as any debris or particles that may have been generated during the procedure.

Suction devices come in different sizes and shapes to accommodate different areas of the mouth and teeth. They’re usually connected to a vacuum system that generates the suction, which is strong enough to remove fluids and debris but gentle enough to not harm the mouth or teeth.

The use of a suction device is important for maintaining a dry and clean environment during dental procedures, which helps to ensure better visibility and accuracy for the dentist or dental hygienist.

Dental Floss

Dental floss is a thin, waxed string used to remove plaque and food particles from between the teeth. Flossing removes any plaque and food particles that have accumulated between the teeth, preventing tooth decay and gum disease.

Dentists recommend that individuals floss at least once a day to maintain good oral hygiene. During a dental cleaning, your dentist or dental hygienist may demonstrate the proper technique for flossing to ensure the individual is doing it correctly at home.

Water Syringe

A water syringe is used to rinse the mouth during and after the cleaning procedure. This dental syringe can help remove any remaining debris from the mouth and leave the teeth feeling clean and fresh. Water syringes are especially useful for individuals with braces or other dental appliances that can trap food particles and make cleaning more difficult. It’s common to use a water syringe during a dental cleaning to ensure that all areas of the tongue and mouth are thoroughly cleaned.


X-rays are an essential tool in the world of dental cleaning. These powerful rays can penetrate through tissues and reveal hidden problems that may not be visible to the naked eye. By using X-rays, dentists can detect cavities, bone loss, and other dental issues early on, allowing them to provide effective treatment before the problem worsens.

X-rays are safe and painless, making them a valuable diagnostic tool for both the dentist and the patient. With the use of X-rays, dentists can provide comprehensive oral care to patients and ensure a healthy and happy smile.

dentist performing a deep cleaning for a patient

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a water syringe safe for sensitive teeth?

Water syringes are generally safe for individuals with sensitive teeth. However, we recommend discussing any concerns or potential issues with your dentist or dental hygienist before using one. They can advise you on the best way to use the syringe and any precautions you may need to take.

What’s the proper technique for using dental floss?

The proper technique for using dental floss involves wrapping the floss around your fingers and gently sliding it between each tooth, being careful not to snap it against the gums. Once the floss is between the teeth, curve it around each tooth in a C-shape and move it up and down to remove any plaque or food particles. Repeat this process for each tooth, using a fresh section of floss for each tooth.

Can I take a pain reliever before my dental cleaning appointment?

Yes, taking a pain reliever before a dental cleaning appointment is a common way to make the experience more comfortable. However, it’s essential to check with your dentist before taking any medication, especially if you have any allergies or medical conditions that may be affected. They may also provide alternative options to make the experience more comfortable, such as numbing gels or sedation.

What are the best dental tools?

There aren’t necessarily any best dental tools. The best dental tools will depend on the specific needs of the dental procedure being performed. Some of the most common dental instruments used are dental drills, mouth mirrors, dental scalers, and dental syringes.

Check Out Our Easy and Effective Dental Tools and Techniques!

With our dental tools and techniques during a dental cleaning, we can ensure a thorough and effective cleaning. If you’re in Luck and are due for a dental cleaning, contact our dentist to schedule an appointment at (715) 472-2211. We’ll make sure you get the dental care you need.