Blog Hero

How Long Does a Dental Cleaning Take?

Book Your Appointment
Happy man at dental office getting dental cleaning from hygienist

A professional dental cleaning can keep your smile bright and healthy. Usually when you visit your dentist for an exam, a dental hygienist will perform a dental cleaning right after. But if it’s been a while since your last cleaning, you may be wondering how long it takes.

Keep reading to learn more about why dental cleanings are an important part of visiting your dentist’s office, how long they take, and how often you should get one. 

Why Do I Have to Get My Teeth Professionally Cleaned?

When it comes to your dental health, daily hygiene practices such as brushing and flossing are important, but those alone aren’t enough to keep your smile healthy. 

Professional dental cleanings are an essential part of keeping your teeth healthy for a variety of reasons, including: 

  • Preventing cavities
  • Preventing gum disease
  • Keeping your teeth white 
  • Avoiding bad breath
  • Improving overall health

When brushing your teeth at home, it’s easy to miss the hard-to-reach spots your dental hygienist cleans. When these spaces are left uncleaned, plaque can build up overtime and increase your risk of developing cavities and gum problems. While these problems can typically be treated, if left untreated for a long time, it can lead to more serious problems. 

What Happens During a Dental Cleaning?

When you visit your dentist, you’ll most likely get a dental examination and a cleaning in the same visit. First, your dentist will complete an oral exam, where they’ll examine your mouth and look for any signs of cavities or gum disease.

After completing your oral exam, the dentist will prepare you for the dental cleaning performed by a dental hygienist. 

A regular dental cleaning typically involves the following steps:


The first step of every dental cleaning is scaling. Scaling is a deep-cleaning process, where your dental hygienist uses a scaler to remove any debris or built up plaque from the gum line and between your teeth. 

Scaling is usually performed using an automatic scaler, which uses vibrations and air pressure to remove buildup. Sometimes your dental hygienist will use a hand scaler in hard to reach places. Then, they’ll use water to rinse it away. 


After any debris and plaque have been removed, your teeth will be ready to be polished. 

To polish your teeth, your dental hygienist will apply a polishing paste to each tooth. Then, they’ll use a small rotating brush device to buff the teeth, making them clean and bright. 


Once the scaling and polishing has been completed, all that’s left is to floss your teeth. Your dental hygienist will use floss just as you do at home to remove any debris stuck between the teeth. After your teeth have been flossed, your hygienist will rinse your mouth and your cleaning will be done! 

How Long Does a Dental Cleaning Take?

On average, a dental cleaning can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. 

How long your cleaning will be depends on a few factors, including:

  • The health of your teeth
  • The amount of plaque buildup that needs to be removed
  • Your personal preferences 

An entire dental appointment, including both the exam and cleaning, typically takes about an hour and a half. At Shawnessy Dental, it’s important for our patients to know that there’s no rush. Your comfort is our number one priority, so if there’s ever a time you need a break, please let us know! It’s important to us that you feel uncomfortable throughout the entire process.

Happy women after dental cleaning smiling and looking at cleaned teeth

How Often Should I Get My Teeth Cleaned?

Regular dental exams and cleanings are an important part of maintaining healthy teeth and gums. At Shawnessy Dental, we recommend the average patient has a dental exam and cleaning every 6 months, but we can recommend a personalized schedule that fits your needs.

We know that every one of our patients is different, and some people need more frequent cleanings than others. During your first few appointments with us, we’ll assess your individual needs and may recommend a more frequent cleaning if necessary. 

If it’s time for your next exam and cleaning, book an appointment with us today! Of course, if you have any questions or concerns, please give us a call. Our team is always here and happy to help!

instagram facebook facebook2 pinterest twitter google-plus google linkedin2 yelp youtube phone location calendar share2 link star-full star-half star star-half chevron-right chevron-left chevron-down chevron-up envelope fax