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Is a Dental Exam the Same as a Dental Cleaning?

Updated: Oct 23, 2023

woman smiling Ryba Dentistry Cleveland OH

Preventive dental care is key to keeping your teeth healthy and beautiful. After all, it's better to prevent oral health concerns from developing in the first place than to combat them after they've already occurred. The good news is that preventing cavities, periodontal disease, and other common dental diseases is easier than you may think. With routine dental exams and regular cleaning, you'll be well on your way to maintaining a strong, radiant smile for life. Here's what you should know about dental exams and cleanings, including what distinguishes one from the other, before scheduling your next checkup at Ryba Dentistry.

What is a Dental Exam?

A dental exam is a preventative dental procedure that a dentist performs. Dental exams identify oral health issues like tooth decay, gum disease, and oral cancer. Identifying these and other oral health concerns early is important to prevent them from progressing and leading to other dental problems.

Here's what you can expect during your routine dental exam at Ryba Dentistry:

  • X-rays will be taken of your mouth to show the dentist what is happening beneath the surface of your teeth and gums.

  • The dentist will examine your teeth, gums, throat, and mouth's soft tissues for signs of abnormalities.

  • If he observes any dental problems, a personalized treatment plan will be made to restore the health of your smile as quickly as possible.

  • The dentist will also recommend practices to preserve the well-being of your teeth and gums until your next dental checkup.

What is a Dental Cleaning?

Professional dental cleaning is a preventative dental procedure that a dental hygienist usually performs. Dental cleanings are done to remove plaque and tartar buildup from the surface of your teeth and polish them. While at-home brushing and flossing are effective at removing food and bacteria from the crevices of your teeth, debris can get left behind. Over time, the food particles and bacteria that aren't removed with good oral hygiene habits can turn into a clear, sticky film called plaque. Plaque can harden into tartar buildup, leading to more serious oral health problems, including gum disease. Plaque and tartar cannot be removed with at-home brushing, which makes routine dental cleaning particularly important.

During your dental cleaning at Ryba Dentistry:

  • The dental hygienist will use a special tooth to scrape plaque and tartar from your teeth and gum line.

  • They will carefully floss between each of your teeth.

  • Then, she will apply a fluoride solution to the surface of each of your teeth to protect them until your next visit.

What Are the Differences Between a Dental Exam and a Dental Cleaning?

Both dental exams and cleanings should be performed every six months, according to the American Dental Association (ADA). While these two preventative dental procedures are often performed during the same appointment, they are two distinct treatments. The exam comprises the dentist observing your teeth and recommending the best way to restore or maintain their health. At the same time, the cleaning is made up of the dental hygienist carefully removing plaque and debris from the surface of your teeth.

Schedule Your Dental Exam and Cleaning at Ryba Dentistry Today!

Maintaining a healthy, beautiful smile for life should be easy. At Ryba Dentistry, we want to show you how simple preventing oral health problems before they develop can be with a routine dental exam and professional cleaning. Contact our dental practice today to schedule your next appointment with our friendly team!


Dr. Christopher Ryba, DDS, at Ryba Dentistry in Ohio City, Ohio

Christopher R. Ryba, DDS

Dr. Christopher R. Ryba, an Ohio State University alum and owner of two practices in Ohio, excels in oral pathology and aesthetic dental restorations. In addition to advising the Allied Dental Health Professions Programs at Cuyahoga Community College, he demonstrates his commitment to community service through his work with the Ohio Dental Outreach. His Seven Hills and Ohio City clinics warmly welcome patients of all ages.


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