What to Expect During the Dental Cleaning Process


Physical Examination

Before initiating the cleaning process, the dental professional conducts a thorough examination of the entire mouth, utilizing a small mirror to gain a comprehensive view of the gums and teeth for oral health concerns like gingivitis. If no issues are found, they proceed with the examination and cleaning, without the need for additional consultation.


The dental professional employs a scaler to remove plaque and tartar from teeth, preventing decay and cavities. The scaler, a hook-like tool, targets plaque on teeth and along the gumline, with scraping sounds that are normal. Efficient scaling is facilitated by consistent brushing and flossing.


Following plaque removal, the dental professional employs gritty toothpaste and an electric brush to polish teeth, removing leftover plaque and safeguarding against bacterial buildup between checkups. The brush may be noisy but typically isn't uncomfortable.


Flossing is a crucial part of home oral care. Irregular flossers might experience slight discomfort during dental cleaning. The dental professional uses thin floss to remove plaque between teeth and may discuss flossing habits and at-home care tips.

a blue-eyed young woman at her dental cleaning


Good Oral Hygiene

Dental cleaning is a crucial part of regular dental checkups and examinations. It keeps the smile healthy and free of disease. The dental cleaning process includes plaque removal, flossing, polishing, and an examination of the gums. Those who keep up with their regular appointments and at-home oral hygiene routine should experience simple and efficient dental cleaning appointments.

A specialized dental professional is responsible for this part of a dental examination and will answer any questions someone might have, help address their oral health concerns, and provide guidance on how they can keep their smile in the best shape possible.


Why Go to a Dental Cleaning


The Power of the Dentist’s Fluoride and Equipment

At the end of the dental cleaning, the patient will likely be asked to rinse with a special fluoride mouthwash. Mouthwash that contains fluoride is a useful addition to any oral hygiene routine. If the dentist recommends this fluoride treatment in the office and at home, it helps protect the teeth against the development of tooth decay. Like the scaler, toothpaste, and electric brush used during the cleaning, this treatment is extra powerful, but not harmful.


Cleaning Sensitive Teeth

As long as they have followed the recommended at-home oral care guidelines, most people do not have issues with sensitive teeth. But if they do, they should let the dental professional know at the start of the appointment. If they are aware of the sensitivity, they can recommend ways to reduce the discomfort before, during, and after the cleaning. During the cleaning, they may check for areas of sensitivity to see if any issues should be addressed. They may also have additional recommendations for home care to make the next visit more comfortable.

A man flossing his teeth


FAQ's About Dental Cleaning & Examinations

  • What is a dental cleaning?

    A dental cleaning is a routine dental appointment where a dental professional will assess oral health and clean the teeth. During this cleaning, they will remove the buildup of bacteria, or plaque, and polish the teeth to protect them until the next cleaning. This appointment is typically quick and simple for those who maintain regular appointments and follow an at-home oral care routine.

  • What is dental scaling?

    Dental scaling is part of a routine dental cleaning. As the dental professional cleans the teeth, they will use a specialized dental tool that looks like a small metal hook to remove plaque and buildup from the surface of the teeth. This process is referred to as scaling.

  • What is a deep dental cleaning?

    Deep dental cleaning is very similar to a routine dental cleaning. This cleaning is typically recommended for anyone that has not had a routine dental appointment in a long time or anyone who has excessive buildup on the teeth or beneath the gums. This deep cleaning is also called scaling and root planing, and it goes beneath the gum line to remove harmful bacteria to clean and protect the teeth.

  • What is the difference between a dental cleaning and deep cleaning?

    A dental cleaning is a regular, routine cleaning that should be scheduled every six months to keep the mouth healthy and clear of harmful plaque. A deep cleaning, however, may be necessary for those who have not had a normal dental cleaning in some time. Deep cleaning is recommended when there are bacteria or tartar in pockets between the teeth and gums. These bacteria could lead to gum disease and, if not addressed, tooth loss.

    Deep cleaning is also called scaling and root planing. While scaling removes buildup from around the gums, root planning goes deeper. During root planing, the dental professional will remove buildup from the surface of the tooth roots. It may take multiple deep cleanings over time to be completely successful.

  • What should someone do in a dental emergency?

    If anyone experiences a dental emergency, they should immediately contact our dental team. Dental emergencies include things such as knocking out a tooth or experiencing dental trauma. The more quickly our team can assess and address the emergency, the better. Always remember that medical emergencies should be handled by a medical professional. If someone is experiencing a medical emergency, they should call 911.

  • What should people do in between dental cleanings?

    To maintain good oral health between professional cleanings, patients are advised to brush, floss, and rinse with mouthwash daily. Our team may advise you to take additional steps depending on your oral health situation. Also, your dentist may recommend avoiding smoking or any other activity known to be harmful to oral health.

  • How often should I get a dental cleaning?

    Most people should receive a dental cleaning twice a year.

  • How should I care for my teeth at home?

    At home, patients should brush at least twice daily and floss once nightly.