Do You Really Need a Teeth Cleaning Every Six Months?

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The time frame for a routine teeth cleaning at the dentist is usually every six months. But have you ever wondered why? Read on to find out why dentists recommend getting your teeth cleaned twice a year.

Who Performs Teeth Cleanings?

When you go to the dentist, it is likely that the dentist will not be the person cleaning your teeth. That job is usually performed by a dental hygienist. A dental hygienist is an oral health professional who specializes in preventative care, or teeth cleanings.

What Happens During a Teeth Cleaning?

  1. The dental hygienist or assistant will usually start the appointment by reviewing your dental and health history. They need to know of any changes in your health, allergies, and medications. They will use this information to asses any oral health risks and to create your dental treatment plan.
  2. They hygienist will then do a quick health screening where she will take a quick look at your head, neck and mouth. He or she will be looking for signs of oral cancer, assess gum health, and note areas of concern.
  3. Dental x-rays usually come next. These are taken by the hygienist or a dental assistant. X-rays are taken periodically so problems can be caught and fixed in the early stages.
  4. Now the hygienist will conduct the teeth cleaning, also called prophylaxis. Dental hygienists use special tools to remove tartar, plaque, and stains from the teeth. They will also polish your teeth using a gritty toothpaste and polishing tool. The hygienist will then carefully floss between all of your teeth.
  5. Sometimes hygienists will also apply a fluoride treatment to the patient. Fluoride both strengthens teeth and protects it from acid. It has the ability to reverse early tooth decay as well as prevent future decay.
  6. During the appointment, the hygienist will take time to educate the patient about proper oral health. They will instruct you on how to best take care of your mouth, such as how to properly brush and floss your teeth. If they recommend using any other oral care devices, such as a water flosser, they will teach you how to use them.
  7. Lastly, the dental hygienist will document all care and treatment needed and communicate any findings with the dentist.

Do You Really Need a Teeth Cleaning Every Six Months?

Dentist usually recommend getting a professional teeth cleaning twice a year. But do you really need a teeth cleaning every six months? The answer is yes. And some people need professional teeth cleanings even more often.

The reason why six months is the default recommendation is because a professional cleaning with dental tools is the only way to remove tartar. Leaving tartar on your teeth will cause tooth decay and gum disease. However, if you go in for cleanings every six months, you should be able to keep tartar at bay.

If you wait much longer than six months to get your teeth cleaned, you will have much more tartar build up. Not only is that more difficult to remove, but it could be affecting your gums at that point.

Six months is also a good time frame to get your teeth polished. Hygienists polish teeth with a polishing tool and gritty toothpaste. Since the toothpaste is abrasive, it’s not something you can use too often, however every six month is perfectly safe.

Can You Clean Your Teeth More Often Than Every Six Months?

Some people need to get their teeth cleaned more often than every six months. Dentists may recommend patients with periodontal disease, diabetes, or excessive plaque to come in every three or four months. Sometimes orthodontic patients who have difficulty cleaning their teeth opt to come in more frequently then six months as well.

If you would prefer to visit your dentist more, or less often, you should discuss this with your hygienist or dentist. They will be able to recommend the ideal interval for your optimal oral health.


Most people get their teeth cleaned at the dentist every six months. The reason is because that is a good time frame to remove plaque. Waiting too long can make plaque removal more difficult and cause damage to the teeth and gums.