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Dental Cleaning

Dental cleaning specifically means that professional cleaning you can only receive from a dentist in dental clinic. A routine dental cleaning or scaling includes the following 3 steps:
  • Scaling, or removal of plaque and tartar from all tooth.
  • Root Planning, or clean perio pockets to stop further gum problem.
  • Polish, or the finishing touch of rubbing on the surface of the teeth.


Traditional scaling is done by hand alone from your dental hygienists. With the advance of technology, electric scalers become available therefore dental cleaning can be done in much shorter period of time. However, to achieve best results, electric and manual scaling should be combined in dental cleaning.

Hand scaling

Handle scalers are best at cleaning the smallest tartar buildup. Therefore if you have light tartar buildup, or after you have cavitron scaling, your hygienist usually uses this form of scaling to clean your teeth. The skills of the hygienists are most important in this type of scaling. Handle scalers with different shapes and sizes are used in this procedure.

Root planning

Root planning is used to treat perio conditions (moderate to advanced gum diseses. When gum is inflamed, gum pockets become deeper, and they lose bone connections inside. The deeper pockets are, the easier it is for them to trap plaque deposits and make gum worse. The perio pockets really need to be cleaned up in order to stop further inflammation. Root planning means to insert the pointy front of the handle scalers into below the gum pockets to clean buildup.


Removal of plaque and calculus from tooth surface

Sometimes local anesthesia is needed to prevent you from feeling pain. And depending on the degree of difficulties, root planning can take several dental visits.


Smoothing of root surfaces to prevent bacterial reattachment

If after root planning, your gum pockets don't close up, i.e. the depth of the pockets remains too much, your dentist should suggest you to undergo perio surgeries in order for the perio pockets to get better.



There basically are two kinds of polisher:

(1) prophy jet polishing and


(2) rubber tip polishing with prophy paste.


  • Prophy jet polishing works by spraying high pressured water mixed with baking soda paste onto the surface of your teeth.. Powered water can wash away the residue and plaque, while the baking soda can remove brown and yellow stains and neutralize the acidic conditions of your mouth.
  • Rubber cup polishing employs a low-speed hand piece with a rubber cup tip mounted on the top. Inside the rubber cup is polishing paste, which contains abrasive ingredients for removing stains and fluoride for strengthening tooth enamel. The rubber cup is spinning slowly on the surface of the teeth. Also, the paste even comes with many pleasant flavors, such as mint, grape, watermelon, etc.

Both polishing procedures above can polish stains away efficiently

Estimates for length of treatment

The amount of time needed for dental cleaning depends on factors from plaque deposits, the complication of dental restorations, if any, and your gingival health, etc. Of course patients with more tartar and plaque buildup need longer appointment than those who have relatively cleaner teeth.

In a moderate case, with moderate plaque accumulation, dental cleaning should take about 25 to 30 minutes.


People should usually go every six months for dental cleaning and check-up. That's twice a year and is what most dental insurance plans cover. But the frequency of recall for dental cleaning really depends on individual cases. Some people tend to have much quick tartar buildup than others. Some might have poor oral hygiene or bad gum situation. And for these people, the rule of thumb is to get professional cleaning more frequently. But do consult with with your dentist.

Dental cleaning for kids

Occasionally when tartar is found in the mouths of some kids, instrument scaling becomes necessary.


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