Family Dentistry |4 min read

How Long Does a Dental Cleaning Take?

A woman getting get routine dental cleaning in Tacoma, WA

Are dental cleanings worth the time?

Yes, yes, and yes!

Dental cleanings are fundamental to preventing disease and decay, which protects your oral and overall health.

Even if you’ve never had a cavity or always brush and floss your teeth as instructed, you still need to get your teeth cleaned at least twice per year.

The good news is that dental cleanings don’t take that long.

Plus, by getting your teeth cleaned at the dentist regularly, you’ll avoid longer and costly dental procedures (i.e. fillings).

Now, to answer the question you came here for…

How long is a dental cleaning?

Short answer:

A dental cleaning appointment takes 45 minutes to 1 hour on average.

To break it down more:

The cleaning portion of your visit usually takes 40 minutes.

The other portion of your visit typically includes an exam, oral cancer screening, x-rays, and home care instructions.

What happens during a dental cleaning?

1. Initial exam

Your registered dental hygienist (RDH) will thoroughly examine your teeth and gums before proceeding with the cleaning.

2. Take x-rays

New x-rays are taken yearly.

X-rays help identify tooth decay (cavities), presence of infection, bone loss, teeth movement, gum disease, and periodontal disease.

3. Remove plaque and tartar

Your RDH will remove built-up plaque and tartar from your teeth, which often accumulate along the gumline.

At Giesy Family & Implant Dentistry, we use an ultrasonic scaling device in addition to hand instruments because it’s:

  • More comfortable for you
  • Quicker than traditional scaling
  • More efficient in removing plaque from smaller, hard-to-reach areas

4. Polish your teeth

Using a gritty toothpaste-like material, your RDH will gently polish the surfaces of your teeth.

This helps remove stains, making them look shiny and white again!

5. Floss your teeth

A thorough flossing will remove any leftover food, debris, or bacteria.

It’ll also show your RDH how often you floss – yes, they can tell!

6. Fluoride treatment

Professional fluoride treatment helps remineralize your enamel to fight decay. Studies have concluded fluoride varnish is the best application for both children and adults.

We recommend fluoride treatment at every cleaning.

7. Final exam

1. Your dentist will inspect your teeth and gums, x-rays, and the RDH’s findings.

2. They’ll also check for oral cancer, conduct periodontal charting, and examine your chewing and biting patterns.

3. If he finds any problems, Dr. Giesy will share his findings, recommend treatment, and provide helpful at-home tips.

4. Our family dentist, Dr. Michael Giesy, uses the VELscope screening system to check for oral cancer. It uses fluorescent light technology to identify abnormal tissues before they’re visible to the naked eye, helping you catch oral cancer earlier. It’s also really quick and painless!

Want to learn more about dental cleanings? Check out this Q&A below!

FAQs about dental cleanings

Q: How often should you go to the dentist for a cleaning?

A: Typically, once every six months. Sometimes more if you have gum disease, are prone to decay, etc.

Q: Can you brush your teeth after a dental cleaning?

A: Yes, you can! However, if you received fluoride treatment, you may be instructed to wait.

Q: How long do you wait to eat after a dental cleaning?

A: You don’t need to wait to eat after a dental cleaning unless you received fluoride treatment or are instructed otherwise.

Q: Does cleaning your teeth at the dentist make them whiter?

A: Removing plaque (which tends to look yellow) and polishing your teeth to remove surface stains can make your teeth whiter.

Q: How much is a dental cleaning?

A: For a quote, contact us directly. If you have dental insurance, your cleaning may be covered at no additional cost.

Are you due for a dental visit?

It’s never too late to start visiting the dentist for regular exams and cleanings. With more research linking oral health to your overall health, it’s more important than ever too!

Schedule an appointment with our family dentist in Tacoma, WA!

Our friendly dental team offers compassionate, judgment-free dental care for all ages. Our patients are family, and we want to help you stay healthy and smiling for the rest of your life.

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Giesy Family & Implant Dentistry is located in Tacoma, WA… This text opens a new tab to our Google listing…. We serve families from all over the Pacific Northwest, including Ruston, Spanaway, Gig Harbor, Lakewood, University Place, Fircrest, Olympia, Puyallup, Federal Way, Fife, and Port Orchard.