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Dentist Teeth Cleaning: What You Should Know

Time to get your teeth cleaned... AGAIN?

It seems like just yesterday when you were sitting in the dentist's chair and now you are being reminded that it's time for your 6 month dental cleaning and check up.  

In this article learn what should be included and how often you really need a dental cleaning.

Why Get Your Teeth Cleaned?

Getting your teeth professionally cleaned twice each year not only keeps your teeth cleaner and your gums healthier but also allows problems to be diagnosed early.  When found early, gum or teeth problems are much easier and less expensive to treat.  Waiting until something hurts is not the best strategy.

  • A professional cleaning inspires you to keep your mouth healthy
  • Clean teeth are less likely to get a cavity or gum disease
  • A clean and healthy mouth is important for your over-all health and well being

Here is what happens at a dental cleaning appointment:

dentist teeth cleaning
  • A thorough tooth and gum exam to find potential problems and alert you to areas that need more thorough brushing or flossing. Sometimes X-Rays are taken.
  • An oral cancer screening
  • Plaque, bacteria, calculus (aka tarter), and stains are removed from your teeth by an ultrasonic scaler, hand instruments, and tooth polisher.
  • A consultation on how to keep your teeth and gums healthier including product recommendations and brush and floss instructions.

How Often Should You Get Your Teeth Cleaned?

It depends...

A cleaning every 6 months is the standard only because that is how often many insurance plans pay for a cleaning and dental exam.  

But some don't need a cleaning every 6 months and can wait 9 months or a year.

Others need more frequent cleanings...

Depending on your specific needs, you may need to have your teeth cleaned more often.

Dental cleanings every 3-4 months have been shown to greatly improve gum health for those who are have gum problems.

Ask your dentist and hygienist to help you determine the best interval for your dental cleaning appointments.

Ultrasonic Teeth Cleaning vs Hand Instruments

Most dental cleanings include cleaning your teeth with an ultrasonic scaler.  The ultrasonic scaler cleans and rinses away plaque and calculus faster than hand instruments.  Hand instruments are still needed for some ares and should be used after the ultrasonic scaler. 

Ideally both the ultrasonic and hand instrument should be used.  You may not be getting the best cleaning possible if only one or the other is used.

What is The Cost of Teeth Cleaning?

The cost varies among dentists and depends on how much build up there is to clean off your teeth.  A routine cleaning should cost between $60-$120.  Deep cleanings also called, scaling and root planings cost from $600-$1000.  

A deep cleaning may be necessary if it has been a few years since your last cleaning.

Beware of free or very low priced cleanings:

One marketing strategy used by unethical dentists is to offer a very low price or even free teeth cleaning and exam only to be told you need more than a basic cleaning that costs much more than the advertised price. I think that is what you would call a bait and switch:( 

When looking for a dentist don't choose based on price alone.  A personal referral is best.

Not included:

The fees for x-rays and the dentist's exam are not included.

What is a Deep Cleaning?

A deep cleaning is recommended when there is more than the usual amount of build-up or if there are gum pockets that are difficult to clean. It is similar to a basic cleaning except more time is allowed to thoroughly clean each tooth.  You may also be numb for a deep cleaning.

Deep cleaning is one of the best treatments in dentistry.  Your mouth will feel cleaner and healthier after a deep cleaning.  It is well worth your time and money.... if you need it.  

Sadly, a deep cleaning is also one of the most over recommended treatments.  

If a deep cleaning has been recommended and you feel unsure about whether you really need it, a second opinion is a good idea. 

Learn more about deep dental cleanings and how to tell if you need one here.

Pain After Teeth Cleaning

You shouldn't have much pain after getting your teeth cleaned.  But if your gums are not in good shape you may have some gums soreness for a day or two after your cleaning.

Or if you had a deep cleaning and your teeth had a lot of calculus (tarter) on the root surfaces they may be more cold sensitive.   Learn how to improve cold sensitive teeth here.   

Pain that doesn't steadily improve should be evaluated by your dentist. 

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