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What Happens During a Dentist Teeth Cleaning?

What Happens During a Dentist Teeth Cleaning?

Dentist teeth cleaning, also known as dental prophylaxis or oral prophylaxis, is a procedure done to thoroughly clean the parts of your teeth and gums that are difficult to reach with brushing and flossing.

It is important to brush and floss your teeth on a regular basis, but it is also important to see your dentist every six months for a professional cleaning. A buildup of plaque and tartar can lead to gingivitis or gum inflammation. Getting your teeth professionally cleaned prevents tooth decay and gum disease.

Who Performs Dentist Teeth Cleaning?

There are two people who can perform a dentist teeth cleaning when you visit the clinic: a dentist or a dental hygienist.

A dentist is a kind of doctor who has been trained specifically to deal with teeth. A dentist checks your teeth and gums to see if they’re healthy.

Dental hygienists are also medical practitioners who take care of teeth. In addition, they also assist the dentist during procedures.

Dental Cleaning Procedure

Dental and Medical History Taking

The receptionist will ask you to fill out a form asking for your medical and dental history. It is a form containing a series of questions about your dental and overall health. It is important for your hygienist or dentist to know if you have any conditions so that they can proceed properly. For instance, some patients have to take antibiotics if they undergo these kinds of procedures.

Entering the Exam Room

As soon as your name is called into the reception area, you’ll walk to the exam room and sit in a dentist’s chair.

Beside the chair is a little sink and a small cup for you to use when you’re asked to rinse your mouth during the procedure.

Oral Examination

The majority of dentist teeth cleanings are handled by a dental hygienist but it usually depends on the type of cleaning. Regardless, for every cleaning process, it always starts with a physical exam.

In order to check for signs of inflammation in the gums or caries in the teeth and other dental concerns, the dental hygienist uses a small mirror.

If the dental hygienist discovers any major issues, she may contact the dentist to ensure that it is okay to continue with the dentist teeth cleaning.

If they find any cavities or dental concerns, it is possible that your dentist will ask you to postpone the cleaning and address these concerns first.

Removing and Scraping Tartar and Plaque

Hygienists will use a small mirror to guide them and a dental scaler to remove plaque in between your teeth. Tartar and plaque build-up in the crevices of your teeth are what hygienists need to remove. During this process, you can hear and feel scraping which can be uncomfortable. Your hygienist might need to scrape more in areas where there are more tartar.

Electric Toothbrushing

As soon as the plaque and tartar have been scraped away, the hygienist will brush your teeth with an electric-powered brush. The brush produces a grinding noise that can sound scary especially to children. But this electric brush is a great way to deep clean your teeth.

In professional cleanings, toothpaste with a gritty texture is used. Despite being rough, it scrubs your teeth gently. This process of polishing the teeth can be performed twice every year and should be done by a professional.

Professional Flossing

Whether or not you floss at home regularly, an expert flossing session is always more effective. The dental hygienist will also clean the areas between your teeth and identify areas where gums may bleed.

Additionally, professional flossing removes any plaque or toothpaste that had been left behind during the dentist teeth cleaning.


The next step is to rinse your mouth to remove any toothpaste and other matter from the procedure. You will be asked to rinse with water and then a liquid that contains fluoride.

Fluoride treatment

After rinsing, your hygienist may apply fluoride treatment. Treatments like this can help prevent cavities on your teeth for several months.

A mouthpiece filled with foam or a sticky paste is fitted in on your teeth and left on for a minute. They might also apply fluoride varnish to your teeth. Fluoride varnish is a substance that protects your teeth from cavities. As soon as saliva touches it, fluoride varnish hardens. Because of this, you will not have problems eating and drinking after your dental visit.

This treatment is not always available in dental clinics or might be charged separately from your dentist teeth cleaning, Make sure to inquire so that you can avail of this treatment.


To maintain healthy teeth, it is essential to visit the dentist for a proper dentist teeth cleaning. Plaque and tartar on the surface and crevices in the teeth can lead to gum disease and tooth decay if not professionally removed.

A dentist teeth cleaning might not always be a pleasant experience but giving your teeth and gums the care and maintenance that they need will surely prevent more painful and uncomfortable oral diseases.

Learn more about Oral Care here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Teeth Cleaning, https://www.ypo.education/dental/teeth-cleaning-t466/video/ Accessed October 17, 2021

Going to the Dentist, https://kidshealth.org/en/kids/go-dentist.html Accessed October 17, 2021

Dental exam, https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/dental-exam-for-children/about/pac-20393728 Accessed October 17, 2021

Scaling and Root Planing, https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/s/scaling-and-root-planing Accessed October 17, 2021

What is a Professional Prophylaxis (Teeth Cleaning)? https://www.gdha.org/prophylaxis Accessed October 17, 2021

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Written by Hazel Caingcoy Updated Oct 22
Fact Checked by Kristel Lagorza