Regular teeth cleanings are essential for your dental health. While you only need one dental exam a year, frequent cleanings are necessary for protecting your teeth. You clean your teeth every day at home, but a professional cleaning helps remove plaque buildup.
Besides cleaning, your dental team can assess your current dental habits and make recommendations to improve your cleaning routine. Dental cleanings are important, so how often should you have your teeth cleaned?
Continue reading to learn more about dental cleanings, including how often you should have them and what to expect during your appointment.
How Often Should You Get Your Teeth Cleaned?
There isn’t a definite answer on how often you need your teeth cleaned—it can vary from person to person. Your cleaning frequency depends on your oral hygiene and overall dental health.
The standard recommendation for every patient is to receive a dental cleaning every 6 months. Depending on your dental needs, you may need more or less frequent cleaning. Listen to your dental team’s recommendation and schedule your cleanings accordingly.
What to Expect During Your Dental Cleaning
You typically receive your dental cleaning from a dental hygienist, a trained professional who can help care for your teeth. Unlike a dental exam, your cleaning only involves caring for your teeth. While dental cleanings aren’t lengthy appointments, you can expect several steps during the cleaning procedure.
Before beginning your cleaning, your hygienist will complete a physical examination of your mouth. This examination helps your hygienist identify any significant problems your dentist will need to assess. If there are no concerns, your hygienist will continue with your cleaning.
Your hygienist will use a small mirror to examine your teeth and gums for signs of gingivitis and other problems.
Plaque & Tartar Removal
Plaque and tartar development occurs when bacteria feed on sugar and starches left in your mouth after eating and drinking. You may have noticed a sticky film on your teeth if you’ve ever skipped brushing before. This film is plaque, a colourless substance causing damage to your teeth when left unaddressed.
When plaque stays on your teeth, it can harden into tartar, also known as calculus. Tartar is harder to remove, and only your dental team can help get rid of it.
Your dental hygienist addresses plaque and tartar using a scaling tool to clean around your gum line. This step of the cleaning process may take longer depending on how much tartar there is on your teeth.
Using a small mirror to help guide them, your hygienist will break apart tartar formation, stopping further buildup. You’ll hear a scraping sound during cleaning, but this is normal.
Polishing involves buffing and cleaning the teeth to help remove plaque and bacteria. This part of the cleaning process is important for removing micro debris and providing a smooth and clean finish for your teeth.
Flossing is an important aspect of your at-home daily cleaning. Your dental hygienist will floss your teeth during your appointment.
They can reach deep between your teeth and locate potential trouble areas you may not notice. Additionally, they can remove any leftover plaque from the cleaning process.
Fluoride is a mineral found in food, water, and soil. Your dental team uses it to help prevent tooth decay. Receiving fluoride treatment is typically the final step in your dental cleaning.
Fluoride has several benefits, including:
- Helping the body better use minerals like calcium, helping the teeth reabsorb them to repair tooth enamel
- Joining the teeth structure when teeth are developing to strengthen their enamel, protecting the teeth from bacteria & cavities
- Slowing or reversing early cavity development by attacking bacteria
Your dental hygienist may ask you to pick a fluoride flavour before placing a gel or paste into a mouthpiece to bite. Besides this treatment, your hygienist might use fluoride varnish, painting it onto your teeth. Whatever method they use, fluoride can help protect your teeth.
Other Potential Steps
Everyone has a unique dental situation, so your cleaning may require additional steps. X-rays typically happen once a year, but you may need more images if your hygienist notices problems in their physical exam.
What to Do Between Your Appointments
Your dental hygienist can clean the hard-to-reach areas of your mouth and remove plaque buildup, but you must take care of your teeth between appointments. Dental visits can help protect your oral health, but your regular teeth cleaning happens at home.
Picking up the following habits can help keep your teeth and mouth healthy:
- Brush your teeth twice a day for 2 minutes each time
- Floss daily
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet & avoid sugary products
- Replace your toothbrush every 3–4 months or sooner if the bristles become worn
- Avoid tobacco use
These habits can help promote good oral health between your dental exams and cleanings. Don’t forget to book your appointments every 6 months or as recommended by your dentist.
Contact your dental team if it’s time for a cleaning.