If a patient is having a dental checkup for the first time, or if they have not been to the dentist in a while, they often find themselves wondering what a dental checkup is. During this routine appointment, a dental professional will check the smile, teeth, and gums for infection, decay, and disease, such as cavities or periodontitis (gum disease).

At some point during the checkup, they will also be given guidance on home care. This allows them to keep their smile in the best shape possible between checkups. Scheduling your checkup is as easy as calling our Glow Dental Spa team in Wayne at (973) 942-6550.


Dental Cleaning

During the dental cleaning, the dental professional will remove the plaque — a buildup of bacteria that deposits onto the teeth. To do this, the dental professional will scrape the teeth above and below the gum line with special tools. The teeth may be rinsed periodically during this process. Then, the dental professional will floss between the teeth. If the patient does not floss regularly, they may find this to be a little uncomfortable; but if they include flossing as part of their daily oral care practice, this discomfort will go away over time.

At the end of the dental cleaning, the dental professional will polish the teeth. This polishing helps protect the teeth against the buildup of plaque so they stay shiny and smoother longer. The polish is applied with a spinning brush and a paste. This paste resembles toothpaste but is slightly coarse so it can better eliminate any residue that might have been missed. When the dental professional is done cleaning the teeth, the patient may be asked to rinse and gargle with mouthwash.


“During the dental cleaning, the dental professional will remove the plaque — a buildup of bacteria that deposits onto the teeth.”

Dental Examination

The dentist will speak to the patient about their dental history. They may ask the patient about medications and illnesses, or whether they have any allergies, concerns, or anxieties. Always be honest with our dental team so they can provide the best care possible.

The dental professional will check the teeth for any signs of concern by using a small mirror to look around the mouth. During this examination, they will be looking for swelling, sores, cuts or lesions, gum recession, and tooth decay. One of the most important things they will look for is spaces between the gums and teeth called dental pockets. Dental pockets pose a risk to health and may indicate gum disease. The dental professional may recommend home care and monitoring to protect the smile.


“Always be honest with our dental team so they can provide the best care possible.”

Dental X-rays

New patients and those who have not had them done in a while will be asked to have dental X-rays taken of their mouth at their dental checkup. These X-rays are important because they allow dentists to check the roots beneath the gum line, which are otherwise inaccessible. For the X-rays, the patient will bite down on a piece of plastic that is placed between their teeth. A machine will be placed near their cheek to take the image. Their dentist will then review the image to check for any dental concerns.

“These X-rays are important for your dental team to be able to check the roots beneath your gum line, which could otherwise not be seen during a routine checkup.”

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The Importance of Regular Dental Care

Our dental team recommends that all patients return to the office for dental checkups at least once every six months. By scheduling regular appointments and cleanings, our dental team will be able to monitor the smile for any signs of concern. Waiting too long between checkups gives more time for plaque to build up, which may lead to cavities, tooth decay, receding gums, and more. Patients will also be taught what they can do to prevent these issues during checkups.

Keeping oral health on track starts at home. To prevent oral health issues between dental checkups, our dental team may make several recommendations for at-home oral care. These oral hygiene techniques may include:

  • Brushing the teeth at least twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste
  • Flossing daily
  • Using mouthwash
  • Avoid smoking or other activities detrimental to oral health

“To prevent oral health issues between dental checkups, our dental team may make several recommendations for at-home oral care.”


Frequently Asked Questions

What happens during a dental cleaning?

During a dental cleaning, a dental professional will use specialized dental tools to clean the teeth. These tools include a scraping tool that looks like a small metal hook to remove buildup from the surface of the teeth and an electric toothbrush with coarse toothpaste to clean and shine the teeth. Together with a dental mouthwash, a dental cleaning will remove buildup from the teeth and protect them from bacteria.

What is a dental exam?

A dental exam is very similar to a dental checkup. Just like a checkup, a dental professional checks the teeth for any sign of concern and cleans the teeth. The difference is that with a dental exam, the dental professional will also check other areas that may be affected by oral health, like the head and neck. This exam is usually only recommended for new patients.

What is a dental X-ray?

A dental X-ray is like other X-rays, but this one looks specifically at the mouth. More specifically, this X-ray looks at the roots and areas beneath the gum line where the dental professional otherwise would not be able to see. Dental X-rays are important for checking for signs of disease or other oral health concerns around the roots of the teeth.

What happens if someone waits too long for a dental checkup?

Bacteria naturally attach to the surface of the teeth as they are used to eat. While at-home oral care can help to remove much of this bacteria, it is next to impossible to remove all of it without professional dental tools. Waiting too long between dental checkups gives these bacteria time to settle onto the teeth and turn into plaque and tartar. If this buildup is not removed, it could lead to tooth decay or disease over time and create further oral health concerns.

What at-home care should be done between dental checkups?

Recommended at-home dental care includes brushing twice a day and flossing at least once a day. Also, dental care professionals suggest patients use a mouthwash that includes fluoride. Patients may be advised to avoid smoking, eating sugary foods, and other activities that are known to be harmful to oral health.