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How Long Does a Dental Cleaning Take?

by Williams, Daily & Frazier on May 18, 2021 9:00:00 AM

How long has it been since you have had a dental cleaning? If it has been longer than 6 months, you are overdue for this necessary dental procedure. In addition to making your smile sparkling and bright, dental cleanings can help keep your teeth at their healthiest. Fortunately, dental cleanings are fast and easy.

Dental cleanings offer protection from tooth decay and gum disease. Thousands of bacteria live in your mouth, and these bacteria feed on the sugar in food. As they feed, the bacteria produce acid that can erode tooth enamel to cause tooth decay, known as cavities. The bacteria can combine with saliva, food, and fluids to create a sticky film, known as plaque, which constantly forms on your teeth. Regular brushing helps remove plaque, but left in place and plaque can harden into tartar challenging to remove.

In addition to causing cavities, the presence of plaque and tartar on teeth can irritate the gums and even cause gum disease. In the early stages of gum disease, known as gingivitis, the gums are swollen, irritated, tender, and sometimes receding or bleed easily. Irritation and inflammation can cause the gums to pull away from the teeth to create pockets, where bacteria and acid can attack teeth and gums below the gum line. Left untreated with a dental cleaning, this can lead to infection of the gums and severe gum disease, known as periodontal disease. At this stage, the bacteria and acid can attack the roots of the teeth, causing deep tooth decay and even tooth loss.


Dental Cleanings Are Fast

Some people put off dental cleanings because they worry the process will take too long. In fact, in a recent survey by the American Dental Association, more than 14 percent of respondents said they skipped dental care because they did not have time to see a dentist. Younger adults are more pressed for time than are older adults: 28 percent of those 18 to 34 said they could not spare the time for dental work. The good news is that dental cleanings are fast. 

The length of your dental cleaning appointment depends mainly on the overall condition of your teeth and gums. Your appointment may take longer if you have a significant amount of tartar on your teeth than if you had only a small amount of plaque, for example. In most cases, dental cleanings take only about 30 minutes, but some could last an hour.


What Happens During Dental Cleaning?

Dental hygienists use an established procedure and a set of specialized tools to get your teeth as clean as possible. First, the hygienist will perform a preventative cleaning by removing plaque and tartar with a dental scaler, which is a metal hand tool with a hook-shaped end. In some cases, the hygienist will use an electric version of a dental scaler.

Next, the hygienist will brush your teeth using a high-powered electric toothbrush and toothpaste that is grittier than the toothpaste you use at home. The toothbrush and toothpaste deep cleans and removes any plaque left behind by the scaler.

The next step involves expert flossing, which removes plaque and food particles deep between your teeth. While flossing your teeth, your dental hygienist will look for any potential trouble spots where your gums might bleed. Finally, the hygienist will have you rinse your mouth to wash away any debris; the rinse may contain fluoride to help strengthen your tooth enamel. In some cases, your dental hygienist will apply fluoride to the surface of your teeth to strengthen tooth enamel and discourage the build-up of plaque.


Haven’t Had a Dental Cleaning Recently?

If you have not had a dental cleaning in more than six months, you may need a deep cleaning to treat or prevent gum disease. Deep cleaning cleans out any pockets that have developed in the gum and cleans the root surfaces to prevent gum disease from progressing from the less severe gingivitis to the more severe periodontal disease.


Ready to See the Dentist?

Don’t let plaque and tartar build-up on your teeth – see your dentist for a dental cleaning before you develop gum disease, tooth decay, or tooth loss. Williams, Daily & Frazier Dental welcome new patients! Schedule a consultation and learn just how fast and easy a dental cleaning can be.

Williams, Daily & Frazier Dental is a family and cosmetic dentist in Raleigh, NC with a dedicated team of dentists, assistants, hygienists and administrators who are enthusiastic in their commitment to their patients. We offer dental implants, Invisalign teeth straightening, in-office and home teeth whitening options, and Oral-B electric toothbrushes.
Contact Williams, Daily & Frazier at (919) 846-9070 for more information and to schedule an appointment today.