Regular dental cleaning helps keep your teeth and gums healthy. This professional tooth cleaning is provided at routine dental care appointments. Even if you take good care of your teeth at home, you can still benefit from regular teeth cleaning.

What Is A Dental Cleaning?

A dental cleaning is a professional tooth cleaning. It’s performed by a dental hygienist, a type of dental professional who specializes in cleaning teeth. What are teeth cleaning? During this procedure, your dental hygienist will carefully remove plaque and tartar from your teeth. This thorough cleaning may help you prevent cavities and gum disease.

Why Is It Important To Have Routine Teeth Cleanings?

The American Dental Association recommends brushing your teeth twice per day with fluoride toothpaste and cleaning between your teeth with floss once per day for good dental health. If you’re following these directions, you may wonder if it’s essential to have routine teeth cleanings. Why is it important to take care of your teeth with routine cleanings? While regular brushing and flossing are essential for good oral health, they may not be enough on their own. Your toothbrush and floss help you remove plaque, a sticky bacterial film that accumulates on your teeth. However, any plaque that’s left on the teeth will harden. This hardened plaque is called calculus or tartar.

Tartar can’t be removed at home with a toothbrush and floss. When it remains on the teeth, it may cause gum disease or tooth decay. These oral health conditions may result in tooth loss or other serious complications. Fortunately, tartar can be removed with a professional dental cleaning. 

How Often Should You Have Routine Teeth Cleanings?

As a rule, you should see your dentist for a routine dental exam and cleaning once every six months. However, your dentist may recommend a different schedule based on your oral health needs. For example, your dentist may recommend more frequent checkups and cleanings if you have poor oral health. On the other hand, if you have good oral health and a low risk of future dental problems, you may need fewer regular visits.

Benefits Of Routine Dental Cleaning

Routine dental cleaning removes plaque and tartar from your teeth. In addition, getting regular cleanings helps you enjoy the many benefits of good dental hygiene. Not only does good dental hygiene help keep your teeth and gums healthy, but it may even benefit your overall health.

Prevent Cavities

Did you know cavities, also known as tooth decay, form when plaque builds up on the teeth? Plaque contains acids that eat away at the outer layer of your teeth, forming tiny openings or holes. Over time, these holes may get larger and extend to deeper layers of the teeth. This may cause toothaches and tooth sensitivity. Routine dental cleanings remove plaque from your teeth and help prevent tooth decay.

Prevent Gum Disease

Plaque that remains on your teeth can irritate your gum tissue, leading to gum disease. In its early stages, gum disease results in red, swollen gums that bleed easily. Left untreated, untreated gum disease may get worse and spread to underlying tissues. This can cause tooth loss and other serious complications. Good oral hygiene, which includes routine dental cleanings, can help you ward off gum disease.

Improve Your Overall Health

Oral health problems may affect other parts of your body, so keeping your teeth healthy with regular dental cleanings may positively impact your overall health. Poor oral hygiene may contribute to cardiovascular diseases, such as heart disease and stroke. Some oral bacteria may cause pneumonia if they enter the lungs. And for pregnant women, severe gum disease has been linked to complications such as premature birth. 

Whiten Your Teeth

There are cosmetic benefits of good dental hygiene, too. For example, if your teeth are stained or discolored, a routine dental cleaning may help. That’s because a thorough dental cleaning doesn’t just remove plaque and tartar; it can also remove surface stains on your tooth enamel. Over time, these stains can build up when you eat highly pigmented foods and drinks, such as coffee or red wine. Smoking or chewing tobacco may also result in stains. When these surface stains are removed, you’ll be left with a whiter, brighter smile. 

Routine Cleaning Procedure

Generally, a routine dental cleaning takes around 30 minutes. Here’s what you can expect during your cleaning:

Mouth Exam

Before starting the routine cleaning procedure, your dental hygienist will examine your mouth. They’ll look for signs of cavities, gum disease, and other oral problems. They’ll also ask questions about your overall health. For example, certain health conditions and medications may affect your dental cleaning

Plaque And Tartar Removal

Your dental hygienist will use teeth cleaning instruments to remove plaque and tartar. First, they’ll scrape the surfaces of your teeth with small, metal tools. They’ll also clean between your teeth and around your gum line. The more plaque and tartar you have, the longer this step will take. Some people find this step of the routine cleaning uncomfortable, but it shouldn’t be painful. 


Next, your dental hygienist will floss your teeth. They’ll clean between your teeth and along your gum line. This professional flossing session helps remove any leftover plaque. 


Polishing is a cosmetic procedure that your dental hygienist may perform during routine dental cleaning. Using gritty paste and an electric tooth polishing brush, they’ll remove plaque and surface stains from your teeth. This deep clean gives your teeth a smooth, shiny appearance. 

Fluoride Treatment

After cleaning your teeth, your dental hygienist may provide a fluoride treatment. Fluoride is a mineral that helps prevent cavities. They may ask you to swish with a fluoridated mouth rinse, or they may paint a fluoride gel or varnish onto your teeth. These treatments take just a few minutes.

Oral Hygiene Education

Your dental hygienist may provide tips about keeping your teeth clean at home. For example, they may give you a brief reminder of proper brushing and flossing techniques. 

Dental Instruments For Routine Cleaning

Dental hygienists may use a variety of dental instruments to complete routine cleaning. These teeth cleaning devices include dental mirrors, dental scalers, ultrasonic scalers, saliva ejectors, and air-water syringes.

Dental Mirror

A dental mirror is a small, round mirror with a handle. This instrument helps your dental hygienist get a clear view of hard-to-see parts of your mouth, such as the backs of your teeth. It also helps your hygienist clean your teeth thoroughly since tartar buildup may be more noticeable when viewed with a mirror

Dental Scalers

Dental scalers are handheld metal tools with sharped, curved blades. They’re used to scrape plaque and tartar from the teeth. 

Ultrasonic Scalers

Ultrasonic scalers, also called Cavitron machines, are powered dental instruments. The scaler’s vibrating tip breaks up and removes tartar, and a jet of water washes away debris. This tool can be used to clean teeth faster than a manual dental scaler. 

Saliva Ejector

A saliva ejector is a suction instrument that dental hygienists use to remove excess liquids. For example, after rinsing away debris with an air-water syringe, they may use this device to suck up water. The device also helps remove any saliva that accumulates in your mouth during the cleaning.

Dental Air/Water Syringe

A dental air/water syringe is a handheld instrument that sprays water, air, or mist. During a routine dental cleaning, dental hygienists may use this tool to rinse away debris. It can also be used to dry a tooth.

Scaling and Root Planing vs. Regular Dental Cleaning

Regular dental cleaning is a preventive treatment. It helps you avoid future dental problems, such as gum disease. Deep cleaning also called Scaling and Root Planing is a more thorough procedure that’s used when gum disease has already developed. There are two parts to a deep cleaning: scaling and root planing. Scaling involves removing all plaque and tartar from your teeth, as well as from the pockets between your teeth and gums. The next step, root planing, consists in smoothing the roots of the teeth. This encourages the diseased gums to reattach to the teeth.


While regular dental cleaning can be completed in one short visit, a Scaling and Root Planing procedure may require multiple dental appointments. In addition, it may cause more discomfort than routine cleaning, so that a local anesthetic may be required.

How Much Does Routine Dental Cleaning Cost?

A routine dental visit, including a mouth exam and dental cleaning, generally costs about $125 to $170. If you have dental insurance, you may pay nothing for routine tooth cleaning. Most plans cover 100% of preventive care, such as regular oral exams and teeth cleaning.

A Scaling and Root Planing procedure costs more than routine cleaning. The cost varies based on where you live and how many teeth need to be deep cleaned. For this treatment, you could pay anywhere from $160 to $290.

Get A Routine Teeth Cleaning Near You

Where can I find a dentist near me for teeth cleaning? It’s easy with The Smile Generation. You can find dental offices in your area, read reviews from other patients and book your teeth cleaning appointment online.