older woman in dental chair looking at her smile in the mirror

How Long Does a Teeth Cleaning Take?

Team General Dentistry

In addition to taking care of your teeth daily at home, it’s important to see your dentist for routine cleanings. If you have healthy teeth now, it may seem like cleanings are a waste of time. If you skip enough of those routine appointments, you will start to notice that your teeth don’t feel or look as healthy as they were in the past.

If you know your teeth are far from perfect, perhaps you’re avoiding the dentist because you don’t want to hear bad news. You don’t want to go through uncomfortable procedures like the dreaded root canal. The longer you delay dental cleanings, the more likely you are to need those procedures.

Regardless of your current dental health, all roads lead you to the dentist. The question is whether you go now for preventative care or later for emergency or restorative care. Let’s take a closer look at what happens at a dental cleaning, starting with the estimated time commitment.

How Long Do Dental Cleanings Take?

Most dental cleanings are completed in less than an hour. If you have healthy teeth and see your dentist at least once a year for preventative care, then you’re likely to get through a cleaning in about 30 minutes.

If your dentist needs to order x-rays or you have dental issues, then you may spend closer to an hour for a comprehensive examination and cleaning. Some of the more common dental problems that can lengthen a cleaning include the following:

  • Excessive plaque and tartar buildup
  • Cavities
  • Bleeding gums
  • Gum disease

What Happens During a Dental Cleaning?

Your dental cleaning will start with paperwork in the front office. Once you move to the dental chair, a dental hygienist will closely examine your teeth to detect potential problems like cavities or inflamed gums. They will then remove plaque and tartar from the surface of your teeth before polishing your teeth and potentially treating with fluoride.

If you have healthy teeth and maintain your dental health properly at home, then you may have a brief visit with the dentist at the end of the appointment. You should schedule your next routine cleaning before leaving the office.

If the hygienist found cavities, inflamed or bleeding gums, missing teeth, or other dental problems, then you’re likely to have a more extensive visit with the dentist. The dentist will examine the problem spots and may order x-rays or recommend other tests and procedures.

You can expect to come back another day for additional treatment if needed. You may also receive a referral to a specialist for procedures not performed in your dentist’s office.

How Often Do You Need Dental Cleanings?

Adults with healthy teeth should have a dental cleaning every six months. The minimum is once a year, but you will benefit from healthier teeth with reduced risk of decay and gum disease if you go in twice a year.

If you have gum disease or other dental problems, you may need more routine visits. Your dentist will recommend a cleaning schedule that coordinates with the current condition of your gums and teeth.

Schedule Your Next Routine Cleaning Today

Has it been more than six months since your last dental cleaning? If so, contact us today or call us at 203-775-2225 to schedule your next cleaning. The hour or so that you spend in our office now could save you from substantial pain and costly restorative procedures in the future.