More than likely you’ve been to a bi-yearly dental appointment, but for others it may be their first time, or maybe they’re coming back to the dentist after a long time and have forgotten what all is involved in the visit. This article will take you step by step through all the things involved in a bi-yearly checkup.

First up is the physical exam. These exams are mostly performed by dental hygienists and not the dentist themselves. This step involves the hygienist examining your mouth using a tiny mirror to check for inflamed gums, bleeding, sores, and signs of gingivitis. If nothing it found, they proceed to the next step. If there is something that concerns them, they will often call the dentist to take a look as well before proceeding. Depending on how long it has been, your dentist may also want to take x-rays to update your file before they begin the cleaning.

Second comes the cleaning, also performed by the hygienist. The hygienist will use the same mirror to look around your mouth while they use a scaler to clean the spaces between your teeth and around your gum line. This is often the most uncomfortable part of the cleaning process, but you can help to lessen it with proper brushing and flossing as this step is merely to get rid of the tartar and plaque that has built up in your mouth.

Third comes the polishing and cleaning with a gritty toothpaste. Combined with a high powered brush, this will both scrub your teeth clean, polish them, and remove any excess tartar left behind.

Fourth comes flossing, another unpleasant part for those who do not floss daily. If you do floss at home, this part will be simple with no bleeding or irritated gums, and will remove anything left behind by the two previous steps.

Lastly, the hygienist will rinse your mouth for one final sweep to get rid of anything lying around, then give you a toothbrush and a small container of floss and you’ll be ready to go.