Otara Dental
15 Carleton Dr #102 St. Albert AB T8N 7K9 (780) 460-0000

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St. Albert, AB

(780) 460-0000

Teeth Cleanings: How Long Do They Last & What To Expect

A close up of a woman at the dentist getting her teeth cleaned to prevent the development of tooth decay

Make Time For Your Teeth 

It’s a busy world, and time is of the essence. It’s easy to consider skipping your dental cleaning if you haven’t noticed any discomfort or changes to your smile. 

The dentist’s office may not be high on your list of exciting outings, but research shows that regular dental visits result in happier teeth

Patients with a regular dental care routine have less chance of developing tooth decay, needing fillings, or having a tooth removed. 

How Long is a Routine Cleaning Appointment? 

The length of your cleaning appointment depends on one person: You!

A routine dental cleanings take between 30 minutes to an hour to complete, but the amount of plaque and most importantly calculus on your teeth will ultimately determine how long you spend reclined in the dentist’s chair.  This is common for patients that regularly return for their cleanings as recommended. Patients that have gone many years without a cleaning may require several visits to complete their first cleaning properly. 

What is Plaque? 

Plaque is a soft build-up in the mouth made up of living bacteria that feed on the food we eat. 

Humans co-exist daily with bacteria in our bodies, but certain types of bacteria in our mouths can lead to cavities and gum disease

Plaque that remains on your teeth can turn into tartar (formally known as calculus). Which is the hard calcified material that adheres to enamel and root surfaces above and below the gums. 

Why Should I Get My Teeth Cleaned? 

You work hard at home to keep your teeth pearly white, so why bother with a professional cleaning? 

We know you’re doing the best you can, but still, there are areas in your mouth storing plaque and tartar are nearly impossible to reach on your own. 

Professional teeth cleanings help control the amount of plaque and calculus in your mouth. A regular cleaning schedule can significantly reduce your chances of developing cavities and gum disease. 

How Often Should I Get My Teeth Cleaned? 

Your dentist will provide a personalized recommendation for how often you should get your teeth cleaned. 

  • If you’re a healthy person that is less likely to develop cavities or gum disease, we may suggest a cleaning every 6 to 9 months. 
  • If you’re at a higher risk of developing gum disease or cavities, you could look into having your teeth cleaned more often. 
A patient's open mouth getting their teeth polished at the dentist to retain good oral hygiene

What To Expect in Your Teeth Cleaning 

Staying informed about the cleaning process may help you better enjoy your fresh, plaque-free smile! 

The Physical Exam 

A dental hygienist will generally perform your physical exam, searching for concerns like gingivitis or signs of cavities using a small mirror. If there’s cause for concern, they will contact the dentist and get their opinion before proceeding. 

Goodbye, Plaque 

Following the physical exam, your dental hygienist will use a scaler to rid your gum line and the spaces between your teeth of plaque and tartar. 

When plaque builds up in your mouth, it can harden into tartar, and tartar can only be removed at the dentist’s office. Your hygienist may have to scrape to remove tartar build-up; this is a completely normal occurrence. 

If you have a lot of tartar in one particular spot, they may need to scrape in that area for a more extended period. The “scraping” that many people refer to is formally known as scaling. 

The more you brush and flush, the less build-up you’ll have on your teeth. Keep that in mind for your next appointment! 

Clean-Up Time 

Once your scaling is complete, the hygienist will brush your teeth using a high-powered toothbrush. Although loud, it’s a great way to give your mouth the deep cleaning it deserves. 

Professional teeth cleaning involves using a product that smells and tastes like standard toothpaste, but has a grittier texture. This gritty texture allows the hygienist to scrub your teeth gently.

Teeth scrubbing should only be performed by a dental professional, so kids, don’t try this at home! Too much scrubbing can wear down tooth enamel, making your teeth more susceptible to cavities and decay. 

Do The Floss 

Your dental hygienist is an expert flosser, so remember to pay attention and listen to their advice on perfecting your techniques. Professional flossing can get deep between your teeth, and help your hygienist find any problem areas in your gums. 


Fluoride treatments help protect your teeth against cavities. Professional fluoride treatments are often in a variety of forms, like:

  • Highly concentrated rinses
  • Foam
  • Gel
  • Varnish

These treatments may be applied with a brush, tray, or mouthwash and contain much more fluoride than what’s in your toothpaste. These treatments take just a few minutes to apply. You may be asked to avoid eating or drinking for 30 minutes to help the fluoride absorb. 

The Extras

Professional teeth cleaning sessions are scheduled around your personalized dental needs, and these appointments may sometimes include your once-a-year dental X-ray

If your dentist or hygienist notices anything of interest in your mouth, they may want to do other exams or treatments during your visit. You can expect open and honest dialogue about these additional procedures, and transparency throughout your appointment. 

Keep Smiling 

Have your teeth cleaned by a professional on a regular basis can help prevent dental problems. By having a firmer understanding of the cleaning process, you may feel more relaxed at your dentist appointments and even look forward to your visits. 

If you have any questions about teeth cleaning or would like to schedule an appointment, contact our incredible team at Otara Dental. We can’t wait to see you again!

Written by Dr. Jessica Dick

Jessica graduated from the University of Alberta in 2013 with a degree in Biological Sciences with a Business minor. She then completed her dental education at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas (UNLV) in May of 2017. During her four years in Nevada, Jessica had the opportunity to provide care to a diverse range of patients at student-run clinics. These volunteer clinics served homeless patients, military veterans, and children in need. Treating and getting to know patients of all ages is Jessica’s greatest passion.

Location / Hours

Located Northeast of Servus Credit Union Place in Campbell Business Park

Otara Dental

15 Carleton Dr #102
St. Albert AB, T8N 7K9

Contact Information

  • Monday: 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM
  • Tuesday: 8:00AM - 6:00 PM
  • Wednesday: 8:00AM - 6:00 PM
  • Thursday: 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM
  • Friday: 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM
  • Saturday: Closed
  • Sunday: Closed

Your Dental Education

  • Are charcoal based toothpastes and products safe?
  • Learn More
  • Are You Making These 10 Teeth Brushing Mistakes?
  • Learn More
  • Dentists May Be the First to Spot Health Conditions
  • Learn More
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