Answers to Your Top 5 Teeth Cleaning Questions

Teeth Cleanings at Home and the Dentist OfficeWhat is Teeth Cleaning at the Dentist?

Teeth cleanings are a routine procedures that are part of every regular dental checkup. When you schedule a regular 6-month checkup, your appointment will include a teeth cleaning and oral exam. Cleanings usually take less than half an hour. During this time, we remove plaque, tartar and sometimes even stains that have built up on your teeth since your last visit. To do this, the hygienist will use some special dental tools to scrape away tarter from the surface of the teeth. Standard cleanings also usually include flossing and polishing. Most people mistakenly believe that tooth polishing is done for cosmetic reasons, but it is actually a preventive procedure. By smoothing out the surface of the teeth with the polish, it makes it more difficult for bad bacteria to stick to your teeth, keeping them clean for longer.

Why Teeth Cleaning is Important

Problem Detection

Regular teeth cleanings help us catch small problems with your teeth, gums and mouth that would probably go undetected until becoming more serious. Problems that we may be able to spot early during an oral exam and cleaning could include:

  • Areas that require additional cleaning attention to prevent cavities and disease
  • Early stages of cavities
  • Gingivitis or early gum disease
  • Oral Cancer


Regular teeth cleanings help prevent you from developing serious dental problems. Your diet and regular brushing, flossing and use of mouth rinses are your best defense against cavities and gum disease. However, even with good habits, you’ll probably still miss some of the plaque that forms on your teeth. Since plaque can harden into difficult to remove tartar in less than two days, it isn’t hard to start getting a little tartar buildup. Common areas of buildup are where you have crowded teeth, in difficult to reach areas in the back of your mouth, and along the gum lines.

Are Teeth Cleanings Supposed to Hurt?

The short answer is no. Regular teeth cleanings might make you feel a bit uncomfortable, but they generally don’t hurt. Scaling, which is using a special instrument to scrape tartar off your teeth, shouldn’t cause pain. Neither should flossing or polishing. If you do experience pain during your cleaning, you should let the hygienist know. Any pain during a regular teeth cleaning may be a sign of a cavity or gum disease, which will need treatment.

What is the Difference Between a Regular Cleaning and a Deep Cleaning?

We’ve just described a regular cleaning above. What many people refer to as a deep cleaning is also known as scaling and root planing. Unless you have gum disease, you don’t need a deep cleaning. If you do have gum disease that has progressed beyond a mild case of gingivitis, then a deep cleaning is a way to remove the infection that is now beneath the gum line. Keep up with your regular cleanings and a good home brushing and flossing routine, and you are much less likely to ever need a deep cleaning.

How do I Clean my Teeth at Home?

Home teeth cleaning recommendations haven’t changed that much in many years. The most important thing is to keep a regular routine so that you clean the plaque off your teeth daily to prevent tartar buildup. You should brush at least 2 times each day for 2 minutes. You should floss daily. Mouthwashes are optional, but can be beneficial.

Home routines are important, but you should still see your dentist regularly. At Smiles by Design, we provide dental services for your entire family.

Schedule Your Teeth Cleaning Today!


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