If you haven’t been to the dentist for a checkup lately, you may be wondering “How long does a dental cleaning take?” Are you going to be able to squeeze it in during your lunch break, before work, or have time after you grab the kids from school?
Depending on the circumstances, most dental cleaning appointments range anywhere from 30 minutes for a child to two hours for a periodontal patient.
Type of Dental Cleaning
Did you know that there were different types of dental cleanings? How long does a teeth cleaning take will always depend upon the type of procedure that’s scheduled.
For example, pediatric dental cleanings don’t involve as many teeth or heavy tartar (in most cases.) As such, children’s checkups tend to be quite short. Whereas a periodic cleaning for a healthy adult takes longer because there are additional tooth surfaces involved. On average, routine cleanings are scheduled in about an hour-long time block. And if the individual has extensive buildup or infected gum tissues, a “deep cleaning” or periodontal scaling and root planing is much more intensive, requiring a second appointment and usually around three hours total.
How Much Buildup and Stain You Have
Figuring out how long does a teeth cleaning take will also depend on how much buildup there is on your teeth. If you haven’t had a cleaning in a while, there’s probably more tartar (calculus) in areas between your teeth or just under the gumlines, along the root surfaces. On top of that, some deposits can be more tenacious than others, requiring additional time to remove them comfortably.
Stain, in particular, can be difficult to remove at times. If you’re a regular smoker or use dip tobacco and want to know how long does a cleaning take at the dentist, your visit will probably be longer than someone who doesn’t smoke or dip. The difference may only be 10-15 minutes, but if you’re in a rush those few extra moments could make a difference on the time of day you choose to schedule.
The Instruments Your Hygienist is Using
Most dental hygienists use a combination of special hand instruments and ultrasonic scalers to remove tartar, plaque, and stain buildup. Air polishers can also work more efficiently to remove tobacco or coffee stains. But in situations where that equipment is contraindicated, you’ll need a slightly longer appointment. Especially if everything is being manually hand scaled.
How long does a dental cleaning take? The longer you wait for a checkup, the longer the cleaning will be. Simply because of the buildup that your hygienist needs to remove. But once you’re caught back up on your dental cleanings-and practicing great home care-you can expect your regular checkups to only last about an hour as long as you’re booking them on a frequent basis.
If You Need an Exam, X-rays, or Periodontal Screening
How long does a teeth cleaning take? Usually 75% of your appointment time. The rest of your planned visit will also include other steps of your checkup. Such as your exam, having X-rays taken when needed, or a detailed periodontal evaluation where your hygienist measures all of your gum and bone levels. Each of these steps requires several minutes to complete, so they ultimately impact how long you’ll be in the office for your appointment.
New Patient vs. Recall Cleanings
A new patient appointment requires more time because baseline information needs to be gathered. This data will be used to compare future findings against so that we can monitor any changes or progressions in your oral health status. Most new patient appointments last about 90 minutes, whereas “recall” visits (when you come back every six months for a preventative cleaning) are around an hour.