Did you know that around 57% of Americans are insecure about their teeth? Whether you’re self-conscious about spacing between your teeth or you wish they were whiter, one of the best things you can do to get your confidence back is visit your dentist regularly.

However, with so many other things going on in your life, we know it’s easy to put off check-ups and your teeth cleaning appointments.

You might even find yourself wondering how often you really a professional teeth cleaning. Well, we’re here to help give you all the information you need.

Keep reading to learn more about how often you should visit the dentist for a cleaning, the risks of putting off teeth cleanings, what you can expect to happen during the appointment, and how to care for your teeth between cleanings.

How Often Should You Schedule a Teeth Cleaning?

As a good rule of thumb, you should schedule a dental visit twice a year for an exam and cleaning. However, this schedule may not be enough for every mouth.

During your exam, your dentist will be able to evaluate your particular risk for gum disease and tooth loss. If you’re at a higher risk than normal, they may recommend you get more frequent cleanings. For example, you may need to come in for a cleaning every three months instead of every six.

Keep in mind that if your dentist recommends more frequent cleanings, it’s not necessarily an indicator of poor oral hygiene habits. Just like many other health issues, some people are more predisposed to gum disease than others, even when they take perfect care of their teeth.

Risks of Putting Off Your Cleaning Appointment

Just like you visit your doctor for regular check-ups, visiting the dentist is an important part of your overall oral health. During the cleaning, your hygienist will not only remove plaque and tartar, but they’ll also look for warning signs of future issues. Then, your dentist can check further for signs of cavities and gum disease.

When you come in for regular cleanings, your dentist can often see early warning signs of issues that can be treated or prevented. The longer you put off your appointment, the more likely you are to develop issues that could have otherwise been stopped.

Eventually, this can lead to serious gum disease and even tooth loss.

What to Expect During Teeth Cleaning Appointments

Around 36% of Americans suffer from dental fear or anxiety, which is one reason they put off their cleanings. If you fall into that group, it’s helpful to know what to expect during the appointment to help ease your anxiety.

While each appointment can vary a bit, here’s a general idea of what you can expect to happen.


Generally speaking, you’ll get dental x-rays once a year. This helps to give your dentist better insight into your oral health and see signs of cavities or tooth decay.

As you get older or if you suffer from oral disease, you may end up needing x-rays more than once a year, but your dentist will communicate that with you.

Dental Exam

After you get your x-rays, your dental hygienist will give you a quick exam. They’ll take a look at your teeth and your gums with a mirror. In some cases, you may need a deep cleaning exam, where they’ll measure the spaces between your teeth and gums to look for signs of gum disease.

However, most of the time, you’ll have a shorter, more basic exam.


Next, the hygienist will start the cleaning process. They’ll use a scaler to gently scrape plaque off your teeth, especially near the gumline. In most cases, you won’t feel this, however, you might notice some slight discomfort if you have sensitive gums.

After scraping your teeth, they’ll thoroughly clean each tooth with a powered brush and floss between each tooth. Finally, they’ll rinse out your mouth and they may offer you a fluoride treatment to help protect your teeth against decay.

Dentist Visit

After your cleaning, your dentist will generally come in for a few minutes to take a quick look at your mouth and discuss any concerns you have. If the hygienist noticed any issues during the exam, they’ll explain that to the dentist as well. After your dentist gives you any recommendations, you’re all finished!

How to Care for Your Teeth Between Cleanings

The best thing you can do to make your cleanings a breeze is to take good care of your teeth between appointments. When you prioritize your dental hygiene at home, you’re setting yourself up for success when your next cleaning rolls around.

Here are a few basic tips to follow to keep your mouth healthy in between appointments.

Brush and Floss

If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a million times, but that’s because it’s so important! Brush your teeth twice a day and floss them at least once a day. If you’re guilty of not brushing for long enough, consider a timed electric toothbrush to help ensure you give your teeth plenty of love. You can also rinse with mouthwash daily for extra cleansing.

Cut Down on Sugar Intake

Eating too much sugar can cause excess plaque to form on your teeth. This is especially true of sugary sodas. While you don’t have to cut out soda and sugar completely, save them for an occasional treat to help keep your teeth healthy and clean.

Chew Sugar-Free Gum

In an ideal world, you’d be able to brush your teeth after every meal. However, since that’s not always a possibility, try chewing sugar-free gum when you’re on the go. It helps remove food residue from your teeth and produces saliva, which has natural antibacterial properties.

Schedule Your Next Cleaning Today

Are you overdue for your next teeth cleaning appointment? After reading through this guide, you know how important it is not to put off your next cleaning.

Schedule an appointment with Thompson Family Dental today to make sure your teeth are in good hands. A healthy, happy smile is just a click away!