Why are dental cleanings necessary? How often do I need a dental cleaning and exam? Does a dental cleaning hurt? We get these kinds of questions often at our Orange County dentist offices. And with good reason — we know the more informed you are, the more comfortable and confident you’ll feel about taking care of your oral health.

Here are answers to some of the top questions patients ask us about dental cleanings.

1. Are dental cleanings necessary?

First and foremost, are dental cleanings necessary? Simply put, yes. Even with diligent oral hygiene at home, plaque and tartar can accumulate. Regular dental cleanings are a preventative step, helping remove these deposits and reduce the risk of cavities, gum disease, and other dental problems over time. 

At a dental cleaning and exam, your Shoreline Dental Studio registered dental hygienist will examine your teeth for oral health issues like tooth decay, cavities, and gum disease. We’ll thoroughly clean any plaque or tartar. These visits also provide an opportunity for early detection of small oral health issues — so they don’t become big ones that require extensive treatment time and cost.


2. How often do I need a dental cleaning and exam?

For most patients, we recommend a dental cleaning every six months which sets you up with a plaque-free smile to maintain until we see you again. However, if you have a history of oral health conditions like gum disease or frequent cavities, we may recommend coming in to see us more often.


3. How long does a dental cleaning take?

When we’re asked, “How long does a dental cleaning take?” it’s not the same answer for everyone. But on average, dental cleaning takes between 30 minutes to an hour. Each visit depends on several factors, like the extent of your plaque and tartar buildup or if you have gum disease. 

Do you have tooth sensitivity or dental anxiety? We’re all about compassionate, comfortable patient care at Shoreline Dental Studio so we’ll take the time needed to ensure you feel physically and emotionally safe. And if it’s your first appointment with us, we also spend time getting to know you and learning about your medical history or any oral health concerns.


4. Does a dental cleaning hurt?

Dental cleanings are typically painless. And as mentioned above, our approach as your Orange County dentist is an experience that puts you at ease. We do our best to tailor cleanings to your comfort. For extra security, we offer our signature comfort experience which includes relaxing items like eye masks, blankets, even iPods for your favorite music. We also offer safe sedation dentistry if you’re feeling especially anxious.


5. What is the dental cleaning procedure like?

Dental cleanings by your dental hygienist in Mission Viejo and San Clemente typically include:

a) Visual examination: Your hygienist will visually inspect your mouth, teeth, and gums to identify any oral health issues or concerns.


b) Tartar and plaque removal: You may be wondering, “Can I remove tartar from my teeth without a dentist? No, professional dental techniques and tools are needed for safe and effective tartar removal. This process is called scaling. 


c) Teeth polishing: After scaling, your teeth are polished with a professional-strength paste that gently buffs away stains and microscopic plaque, creating a smooth, shiny surface for more effective at-home cleaning. 


d) Flossing and rinsing: Your dental hygienist finishes your cleaning by flossing between your teeth and rinsing your mouth to remove residual debris.


e) Fluoride treatment: At Shoreline Dental Studio, fortifying fluoride is painted onto your teeth in a finishing step that takes only a few minutes.


f) Oral health education: If needed, we’ll chat about proper brushing and flossing techniques and offer advice on at-home oral hygiene that will work for you.


6. How long after a dental cleaning can I eat?

You can usually eat right after a dental cleaning. But if you’ve had a fluoride treatment, we recommend waiting two hours before drinking hot liquids or eating anything crunchy or sticky to allow the fluoride to fully absorb into your teeth.


7. Can I have a dental cleaning while pregnant?

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) considers it generally okay to have dental cleaning while pregnant. In fact, maintaining good oral health during pregnancy is vital, as hormonal changes can increase the risk of gum disease.

Dr. Ritzau and your Shoreline Dental Studio team suggest going in the second trimester because some patients find it uncomfortable laying back in the dental chair for too long during the third trimester. Of course, you can always let us know if you need to sit up for a minute during your cleaning. When making your appointment, let us know if you’re pregnant so we have a heads up and can accommodate your needs.


8. How much does a dental exam and cleaning cost?

The answer to, “How much does a dental exam and cleaning cost?” can vary from visit to visit. It depends on factors like your location, your insurance coverage, and the complexity of your oral health needs. At Shoreline Dental Studio, we’re happy to answer all your questions about cost and our dedicated insurance experts can go over your insurance coverage, too.

New Patient Event: Save on Preventative Dental Care at Your Orange County Dentist

Not currently a patient at Shoreline Dental Studio? Now’s a great time to visit us for a dental exam and cleaning. Between June 10-30, 2023, new patients receive a comprehensive first appointment that includes an exam, cleaning, and diagnostic digital x-rays for only $149. Schedule an appointment at our San Clemente or Mission Viejo to take advantage of these savings.

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Shoreline Dental Studio