Routine dental cleanings are important in maintaining good oral hygiene. Professional cleaning by a hygienist can remove mineralized plaque (called calculus or tartar) that may develop even with careful brushing and flossing, particularly in areas that are difficult to reach. The overall health of the gums (based on clinical pocket depths) and the amount of calculus present will dictate how often it is recommended that you go in for a cleaning. Your dentist and hygienist will recommended what interval is right for you, whether it is to come in every 3 months, 4 months, 6 months or 9 months.
How it’s done
You can expect your dental cleaning to last between 30 minutes and an hour. Typically, a trained hygienist will do the cleaning, and a dentist may come in for an exam at the end. Most people find that dental cleanings are painless, and do not cause any discomfort.
There are two important steps to a dental cleaning. The first step is scaling or root planing the teeth, whereby the hygienist will remove the plaque and tartar from the tooth surfaces both above and more importantly, below the gum line. This is performed by hand and/or electric scalers depending on the hygienist’s preference.
The second step is polishing to remove any final plaque and stains from the teeth.