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What Happens During a Dentist Teeth Cleaning?

Medically reviewed by Grazielle Millo-Paderes, DDM, MSc · Dentistry · Unihealth-Parañaque Hospital and Medical Center

Written by Hazel Caingcoy · Updated Feb 10, 2022

    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. They will check your teeth and gums to see if they’re healthy. 

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

    In the Philippines, the dentist commonly performs the procedure.

    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 cardiac patients have to take prophylactic 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

    Dentist teeth cleanings always start with an intraoral exam. 

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

    If the dentist discovers any major issues, it is possible that they will ask you to postpone the cleaning and address these concerns first. 

    Removing and Scraping Tartar and Plaque

    Dentists 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 dentists need to remove.

    During this process, you can hear and feel scraping which can be uncomfortable. Your dentist 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 dentist 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 dentist 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. Your dentist will ask you to rinse with water and then a liquid that contains fluoride. 

    Fluoride Treatment

    After rinsing, your dentist 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 must not eat for 30 minutes to 1 hour after professional fluoride application. This will ensure that the fluoride will be absorbed by the teeth.

    This treatment is not always available in dental clinics. Other times, it may be a separate charge 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.

    Medically reviewed by

    Grazielle Millo-Paderes, DDM, MSc

    Dentistry · Unihealth-Parañaque Hospital and Medical Center

    Written by Hazel Caingcoy · Updated Feb 10, 2022

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