How dentists clean teeth

Find out exactly what happens at a dental cleaning appointment with our dental hygienists.

It doesn’t matter how well you look after your teeth. Even if you brush and floss twice a day, there will always be those hard-to-reach areas that are impossible to keep clean. That’s why, over time, you’re likely to get a build-up of plaque and will need to visit the dentist for dental cleaning.

For most people, professional teeth cleaning is recommended once every six months. But what exactly does the appointment involve? And what should you expect if it’s your first time?

A typical dental cleaning appointment

The goal of dental cleaning is to remove plaque and calculus (i.e. hard, calcified plaque) from the surface of the teeth. The appointment is usually with a dental hygienist and there are five main steps they will follow:

  1. A pre-cleaning examination

First things first, they will conduct a thorough examination of your mouth. This is to check for any oral health concerns that may affect the safety or effectiveness of dental cleaning. If an issue is detected, they may ask for the advice of the dentist – just to make sure it’s ok to go ahead.

A probe may also be used to check for periodontal pockets. These pockets can be found between the teeth and gum line and, if they measure more than 5mm, a deep clean may be recommended.

  1. Scale and polish

Most people have heard of a ‘scale and polish’.

This is the main dental cleaning technique employed by professionals. An ultrasonic ‘scaler’ is used first. This device creates mild vibrations, which successfully dislodge the largest pieces of plaque and calculus. It also sprays a mist of cool water to wash away the loose debris. Then, finer handheld instruments are used to ‘scrape’ away the smaller and more stubborn deposits.

After each tooth has been scaled, an electric brush is used to polish each one individually. Again, this is a handheld instrument. It spins at the tip of the tooth and, by applying a gritty toothpaste-like solution (i.e. prophylaxis paste), creates a smooth and shiny finish.

tools used for dental cleaning

  1. Flossing

The next stage of professional dental cleaning is flossing. This is just the same as the floss you use at home. But by using their expert technique, the dental hygienist is able to get deep between the teeth and remove any leftover plaque or debris (from earlier in the cleaning process). They can also tackle trouble areas, which you may find difficult to reach yourself or have previously missed.

  1. Fluoride treatment

A fluoride treatment may then be applied.

Fluoride is a natural mineral, known to strengthen the teeth and help protect against plaque and calculus. It’s what can be found in toothpaste. However, the fluoride gel used in dental cleaning has a much higher concentration – and, therefore, its effect is much quicker and more profound.

The gel is placed into a flexible mouthpiece, which is fitted snugly over the teeth. Here it will be left for approximately 60 seconds, before it is removed, and you will be asked to rinse your mouth.

  1. Advice and tips

Finally, at the end of the appointment, the dental hygienist will offer tailored advice regarding your oral health. For example, they may offer tips on how to keep the teeth clean and reach tricky areas. Or they may explain the best methods to kill mouth bacteria and minimise the build-up of plaque.

This is also a chance for you to ask questions. Perhaps you’re unsure on the best way to floss? Or would like to know which toothpaste to buy? The dental hygienist has expert knowledge in this area and will be more than happy to answer your queries.

patient speaking to dentist about professional teeth cleaning

Book your dental cleaning appointment today

To help maintain a bright and healthy smile, professional teeth cleaning is just as important as your routine dental check-up. It’s a quick and painless appointment – and, here at Kiln Lane Dental, we have a range of dental hygiene treatments available to suit all preferences and requirements.

If it’s your first visit, we typically recommend the ‘Classic Clean’. This is a convenient 15-minute session, that will get rid of stubborn plaque and leave your mouth feeling revitalised and refreshed. For those who need a deep clean, we also offer longer sessions – including 30 and 45-minute options – which combine industry-leading scale and polish techniques and whitening, to restore the tooth’s shine.

So, why not get in touch today? To find out more about how dentists clean teeth – and book an appointment at our practice – simply give us a call on 01744 25776 or send an email to