Key Takeaways

  • Some common dental procedures can prevent dental problems, like cleaning and polishing.
  • Understanding the type of procedures your dentist recommends helps you make informed decisions about your oral health needs.
  • Good preventive oral care at home can save your teeth and improve your oral and overall health.

Below you’ll find explanations of some common dental procedures. These can be done by a general dentist but may also be referred to a dental specialist (e.g. endodontist, oral and maxillofacial surgeon). If you have any questions about why a certain procedure is being recommended, ask your dentist.

Scaling and Polishing

Gum disease is often caused by a build-up of bacteria (or plaque) on your teeth and under the gum line. The best way to remove plaque is to brush and floss your teeth daily. But no matter how well you clean your teeth there will always be areas that are hard to clean. Plaque can build up until it turns into calculus (or tartar). This is impossible to remove by brushing and flossing alone. The more plaque that builds up around the tooth and then under the gum line can lead to gum disease.

To reduce the risk of gum disease or to stop it from becoming more serious, your dentist may recommend that you have your teeth professionally cleaned. This is called a scale and polish and it can be done by your dentist or dental hygienist.

Scaling is a procedure where plaque and tartar are scraped from the surface of your teeth. This is done using hand instruments or a vibrating ultrasonic instrument. If you have stains, your teeth may need to be polished. A fluoride treatment may be applied to strengthen your teeth.


Dental sealants act as a barrier against decay-causing bacteria. They are usually applied to the chewing surface of teeth. Most often, the sealants are applied to the back teeth.

Oral Cancer Exams

Oral cancer starts in the cells of the mouth, tongue or throat. An oral cancer screening is usually a routine part of a dental check-up. In this exam, your dentist will feel for lumps or irregular tissues in your neck, head, face, and inside your mouth. Your dentist will also look for sores or discolored tissue in your mouth.

Fillings and Repairs

When teeth have cavities or have been damaged, the dentist may recommend a filling. There are two kinds, metal and composite. Dental amalgam is the most common type of metal filling but other metals like gold are also used. For a natural look, composite fillings made out of glass ionomer cement are used so their colour can be matched to the rest of your teeth.

Root Canals

When a tooth is injured, cracked or decayed, it’s necessary to open the tooth and clean out the infected tissue. This space is then filled and sealed to prevent further infection. Keeping your tooth helps keep your other teeth from drifting out of line and causing jaw problems. Saving a natural tooth also avoids having to replace it with an artificial tooth, like an implant.


A tooth may need to be removed because of disease, trauma or crowding. In some cases, permanent teeth may need to be removed for orthodontic treatment. In the event that you lose a tooth or need to have a tooth extracted it is recommended to replace the missing tooth. Tooth replacement options include bridges and implants or dentures. Extraction is a common practice for wisdom teeth

Gum Surgery

Gum disease is an infection that affects the gums and jaw bone and in severe cases, can lead to a loss of gum and teeth. There are two major stages of gum disease, gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis is the milder and reversible form but periodontal disease is often more severe and in some cases, gum surgery will be required to reverse any damage caused.

Cosmetic Procedures

There are many options to repair or replace damaged or missing teeth.

Find them here