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Home Knowledge CenterTeeth Cleaning Process and Benefits

Teeth Cleaning Process and Benefits

In addition to regular brushing and flossing, teeth cleanings at your dental office are an important part of maintaining oral health.

What happens during a teeth cleaning at the dentist?

A thorough teeth cleaning is a part of your regular dental check-ups that typically occur twice a year. Teeth cleanings are usually performed by a dental hygienist but may be done by your general dentist.

Here is how your dental hygienist typically does a teeth cleaning:

1. Examine your mouth

The hygienist will use a small mirror to look at your teeth and gums for possible issues or concerns.

2. Get rid of plaque and tartar

Using a scaler, your hygienist will scrape your teeth to remove plaque and tartar. The more buildup you have, the longer this process could take.

3. Polish your teeth

The hygienist will brush your teeth using a high-powered electric brush to thoroughly polish them. They do this with a gritty toothpaste (also called prophylaxis paste). This deep clean will get rid of any tartar that may have been left behind.

4. Floss your teeth

Next, your hygienist will floss between your teeth. Even if you floss regularly at home, this is an important step in the dental cleaning process. Your hygienist can look for things such as bleeding gums and give you suggestions for improving your teeth care.

5. Fluoride rinse and/or treatment

The last step of your teeth cleaning may include a fluoride rinse or treatment. Fluoride is a natural mineral that helps strengthen teeth against cavities and other damage. Depending on your oral health, your dentist may recommend a professional fluoride treatment at every appointment or once per year.

After the above steps have been completed, your dentist will do a final check-up and address any questions you may have.

Why are teeth cleanings important?

Regular teeth cleanings are part of preventive dental care. Teeth cleanings remove plaque and tartar build-up that can’t be reached by brushing and flossing alone. They are vital to your overall health and can help prevent future dental problems.

Poor oral health is linked to many other health concerns, so it’s critical to stay on top of regular cleanings.

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How often should you get your teeth cleaned?

Professional teeth cleanings should be done at your dental office twice per year, ideally every six months. This is the recommendation for both adults and kids to maintain their dental health.

Depending on your oral health, your dentist may recommend additional visits. This is especially true for those who have had or are at an increased risk of having periodontal disease or gingivitis. Those who are pregnant or have chronic diseases linked to oral health may also need more cleanings. 

How much does a teeth cleaning cost?

Several factors impact the cost of a dental cleaning. Depending on the type of dental insurance plan that you have, a routine teeth cleaning is likely covered. You may or may not have to pay a copay at the time of your appointment.

If you have more than two teeth cleanings per year, or if your dentist needs to perform additional dental work during your visit, you may have additional costs. Take a look at your dental insurance plan documents for more details on what is and is not covered. 

What is the best way to clean your teeth at home?

While a deep dental cleaning is best done at your dental office, there are ways you can clean your teeth and gums at home to maintain good oral health.

The ultimate goal is to get rid of plaque so it doesn’t turn into tartar. You can reduce plaque at home by:

  • Brushing your teeth for two minutes at a time, twice a day, using a fluoride toothpaste
  • Flossing regularly
  • Limiting sugary beverages and food
  • Adding a mouthwash into your teeth cleaning routine
  • Avoiding tobacco products
  • Managing chronic health conditions, if you have any


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This information is for educational purposes only and is not medical advice. Always consult with your dentist for appropriate examinations, treatment, testing, and care recommendations.

Insured by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company. Product availability may vary by location and plan type and is subject to change. All dental insurance policies contain exclusions and limitations. For costs and details of coverage, review your plan documents or contact a Cigna Healthcare representative. All Cigna Healthcare products and services are provided exclusively by or through operating subsidiaries of The Cigna GroupSM, including Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company and Cigna Dental Health, Inc. In Texas, the Dental plan is known as Cigna Dental Choice, and this plan uses the national Cigna DPPO Advantage network.

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