A dental cleaning is a fairly routine procedure that should not be painful. However, patients who have not had their teeth cleaned in a while may experience a longer cleaning, with some extra work to remove plaque from teeth. You normally don’t need pain medication for a dental cleaning. From time to time, however, there is the exception to the rule and some patients are so nervous about seeing us that they request nitrous oxide. In some extreme cases of anxiety, we may use a method known as sleep dentistry, where a patient is medicated to the point that they sleep through the entire procedure.
Most dental cleanings take between 30 and 60 minutes. If the cleaning is part of your yearly check-up, our hygienist may take X-rays to check for cavities and any other changes in the bone structure. I will normally perform the last look, and perhaps perform some difficult plaque removal toward the end of the cleaning, evaluate the gums for gum disease, as well as examine for oral cancers.
We wrap up your cleaning with advice about how to better care for teeth at home, and scheduling any appointments needed for additional services, like filling cavities. With today’s busy schedules, it’s best to schedule your next cleanings well in advance to keep regular six-month cleaning appointments. If you are regularly caring for your teeth at home, and plaque build-up is still significant, you may need to have more frequent cleanings.