What Are the Different Types of Dental Cleaning?

Alex Tree

Three primary types of dental cleaning are regularly undergone by the average person: personal, regular professional, and deep cleaning. Personal cleaning is typically performed with toothpaste, tooth brush, and dental floss at least once per day. Many dentists recommend performing personal cleaning after every meal, but studies show that a lot of people opt to clean their teeth once per day, usually in the morning. A regular professional cleaning is recommended every three to six months, depending on eating and smoking habits. Deep cleanings are reserved for people with gum disease or poor oral hygiene in general and are undergone on an as-needed basis.

Dental cleaning may be performed with a tooth brush and toothpaste.
Dental cleaning may be performed with a tooth brush and toothpaste.

The type of dental cleaning that people experience most often is personal self cleaning. This is performed by a person on his or her own teeth on a regular basis. While many different pieces of dental equipment can be used by the average person, the two most common are simply a tooth brush and dental floss. The tooth brush is typically used to clean teeth surfaces, and dentists usually recommend that circular strokes be used in order to avoid enamel damage. Floss is packaged as a spool of plastic string that can be pulled out and snapped off, and it is used to clean in between the teeth.

Regular professional dental cleaning is recommended every six months.
Regular professional dental cleaning is recommended every six months.

Regular professional maintenance is usually carried out by an oral hygienist, not a dentist, and it is typically recommended for it to take place every six months, though opinions vary. The purpose of regular professional maintenance is to clean areas that have been missed, are hard for a person who is self cleaning to reach, and to clean tartar that has hardened and is impossible for mundane methods to remove. Oral hygienists typically use a combination of tools, including floss, metal instruments, and water picks to carry out regular professional dental cleaning on patients.

Deep cleaning is a more involved dental cleaning.
Deep cleaning is a more involved dental cleaning.

Deep cleaning is a more involved dental cleaning that is usually given to people with excessive plaque buildup. A local anesthetic is used on the mouth, and then the teeth are cleaned slightly below the gum line. This kind of thorough cleaning is much more expensive and time-consuming than a regular cleaning. A dentist typically completes the cleaning over three to four visits, but the number of visits needed largely depends on how much cleaning the patient’s mouth is in need of. People who truly need a deep cleaning and neglect to get one are at risk for tooth loss, especially when their gums begin to separate from their teeth.

Flossing is a common dental cleaning technique.
Flossing is a common dental cleaning technique.
Mouthwash can help kill germs between dental cleanings.
Mouthwash can help kill germs between dental cleanings.

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Discussion Comments


If you have dental insurance, most plans will pay for your 6 month cleaning. Even though I brush and floss every day, I always make sure and get my teeth cleaned at the dentist every 6 months.

I have plaque build up that I can't get rid of at home. My teeth never feel as clean as they do when I walk out of the dentist office after a regular cleaning. My hygienist will also polish my teeth using a mint flavor when she is finished with the cleaning.

When my sister broke her jaw and had to have it wired shut for a few months, one of the first things she did after that, was get her teeth cleaned. Even though this was necessary for her jaw to heal, it was not good on her teeth. She had some ultrasonic dental cleaning done that really deep cleaned her teeth and gums.


I work from home and have actually found that I eat less if I brush my teeth more often. There is something about brushing my teeth that stops me from eating so much because I love that just-brushed feeling.

If I have clean teeth, I am much less apt to eat a lot of junk because I like to keep that clean feeling in my mouth as long as I can.

Flossing on a regular basis has also made a difference for me. I think this is as important as brushing when it comes to keeping healthy teeth and gums. I even keep floss in my purse so I can floss my teeth when I am away from home.

I know that I can keep my overall dental cleaning cost down when I do what they recommend between visits. Nobody likes going to the dentist, but if I just need to see him for cleaning every 6 months, it's not so bad.


We don't have dental insurance, and my husband went about 5 years without going to the dentist at all. This ended up costing him more than if he had gone for his regular 6 month cleaning.

He ended up needing deep dental cleaning treatments to remove all the plaque and get his gums back in good shape. He had to see the dental hygienist every 3 months for about 2 years before he got back on track.

Now he is on a 6 month schedule and hopefully won't ever put off his dental cleaning like he did then. Even though we didn't have insurance, I still went every 6 months to get my teeth cleaned. This was way less money than what we ended up spending on my husband who tried to cut corners by not going at all.


One of the biggest reasons I prefer using an electric toothbrush is because I feel like it does a more thorough job of cleaning my teeth. It is also easier to brush in a circular motion with this than it is with a manual toothbrush.

My dentist kept telling me I was brushing too hard and I was ruining some of the enamel on my teeth. I thought I was doing everything I was supposed to, but found out my technique was wrong.

Not only does the electric toothbrush help you brush in a circular motion, but it also helps you control the pressure you are using when you brush. Of all the dental cleaning tools I have used at home, this is the one I have found to be the most beneficial.


@SailorJerry - Your pediatrician will tell you what to do for baby's teeth. Some say that you should wipe their gums down with a clean washcloth before they even have any teeth, but mine did not suggest that.

My ped just had me start cleaning baby's teeth once they came in and once baby was eating some "solid" foods. I was supposed to clean them with plain water and either a clean baby washcloth or a finger brush. (You can find finger brushes in the baby aisle.)

Then once baby got a little bigger - a year, I think - they said to use a proper toothbrush, but obviously a toddler-sized one, and still to use just plain water. You can't really use fluoride toothpaste until the kid can spit; again, check with your pediatrician. Mine gives me these handouts at every visit that give standard advice on toothbrushing among many other subjects.

Really, with babies the idea is more to get them used to having their teeth cleaned than anything else. The most important way to protect baby's teeth is to never, ever, ever let your little one take a bottle to bed.

My wife and I are expecting our first baby any day now and I heard something about cleaning the baby's teeth? When are we supposed to start doing that?
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