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Healthy Smiles: Why Consistent Dental Care And Teeth Cleaning Are So Important

By: Milena Hakani RDH, Dental Hygiene Lead at Twogether Dental - Original Publication Date: June 2, 2021 - Updated November 23, 2023


Good oral health isn't just important for your general appearance and well-being, it's also vital to your overall health. For example, undiagnosed and untreated issues like cavities or gum disease can in due time lead to more serious health issues.

I know what you're thinking... You probably think you take great care of your teeth, and they may look very healthy. However, upon closer inspection, you may not always notice the build up of harmful plaque that can form over time. That's because plaque is a colourless film of bacteria that coats your teeth. Over time, this plaque can turn into tartar which can lead to more serious conditions like gum infection.

Fortunately, with regular teeth cleaning, plaque build up and other dental care concerns can be easily addressed. At Twogether Dental, we like to say healthy mouth, healthy body, healthy life.

With that in mind, in this article, I'll answer some of the most common questions our patients have about maintaining dental care and teeth cleaning.

How Often Should I Go To The Dentist?

Let's start with basics. It's important to attend a dental exam and cleaning at least twice a year. For optimal results, the ideal number of appointments would be 3 or more per year. Maintaining a regular schedule for dental visits will not only help your mouth look and feel fresh, it will also help your dental professional identify issues early on. This in turn will aid in preventing future oral health issues like tooth decay. The importance of this cannot be understated. Early detection of serious oral health issues will help you avoid potentially painful treatments and save you time and money. 

Teeth Cleaning Cost

Teeth cleaning costs in Toronto can vary significantly depending on the patient and the clinic you choose. Generally speaking, dental cleaning costs typically range from $365 to $400. For a more detailed breakdown of teeth cleaning costs, check out this article.

How Long Does a Dental Check-up and Cleaning Take?

This would again depend on each individual patient. Typically, for patients with good oral health, the the time for a check-up and cleaning is a little more than 1 hour. Some patients who haven’t seen the dentist in a long time, might need more time or additional appointments.

What Level Of Treatment Do I Need?

Because every patient is different, the level of treatment you need will depend on the current state of your oral health. That means your check-up and cleaning may vary in terms of the procedures used, the time required, and the cost of treatment. Here are the 3 most common types: 

Basic Check-up & Cleaning

The most common type of dental cleaning is known as a prophylaxis cleaning. This is typically recommended for individuals with good oral health who visit the dentist regularly. This treatment includes the removal of plaque and tartar from your teeth, paying special attention to hard-to-reach areas. This type of cleaning usually lasts around 30 minutes and is followed by polishing to eliminate any surface stains. Prophylaxis cleanings are generally painless and leave your teeth feeling fresh and squeaky clean. 

Comprehensive Treatment

For individuals with gum disease or signs of gingivitis, a scaling and root planing procedure, also known as deep cleaning, may be necessary. This type of dental cleaning involves more extensive cleaning below the gumline to remove stubborn plaque buildup and tartar. Scaling is performed to remove bacteria and plaque from the teeth and gums, while root planing smooths the roots of the teeth to prevent further buildup. Deep cleaning can take multiple appointments and may require local anesthesia to ensure comfort during the procedure.

Full Mouth Debridement

Another type of dental cleaning is a full-mouth debridement, which is typically recommended for individuals who have not visited the dentist in a long time, resulting in significant plaque and tartar buildup. During a full-mouth debridement, the dental hygienist will spend a considerable amount of time removing the excessive buildup before proceeding with a regular prophylaxis cleaning. This type of cleaning allows for a more thorough examination of the oral cavity and ensures that effective treatment can be provided if any dental issues are identified.

Periodontal Cleaning

Lastly, there is a periodontal maintenance cleaning, which is recommended for individuals who have been treated for gum disease, infections, or other significant oral issues. This type of cleaning is essential to maintain healthy gums and prevent further complications. During a periodontal maintenance cleaning, the dental hygienist will carefully clean the teeth, check for any gum pocket formation, and review the effectiveness of previous treatments. This type of cleaning typically requires more frequent visits to the dentist for ongoing care.

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What Are The Steps?

If this is your first check-up and cleaning ever, or at least in a while, you might be wondering what the steps are to complete the treatment.

Dental Check-up and Cleaning Overview

A full dental cleaning, also known as a dental prophylaxis, is a crucial part of maintaining good oral health. It is a comprehensive procedure performed by a dental hygienist or dentist to remove plaque, tartar, and stains that have accumulated on your teeth and along the gumline.

Step 1: The Oral Examination

The process usually begins with a thorough examination of your oral cavity. The dental professional will inspect your teeth, gums, and surrounding tissues to identify any signs of dental decay, gum disease, or other potential oral health issues. They may also take X-rays to get a closer look at the underlying structures of your teeth.

Step 2: Cleaning & Scaling

After the initial assessment, the cleaning procedure commences with the removal of plaque, a sticky, bacteria-laden film that adheres to the teeth. Plaque arises from the combination of food particles, oral bacteria, and saliva. If not removed regularly, it can harden and transform into a rough substance called tartar or dental calculus.

Using specialized dental tools like scalers or ultrasonic instruments, the dental professional will meticulously scrape away the accumulated tartar from your teeth. This process, known as scaling, targets the areas between the teeth, along the gumline, and below the gumline. Although it may cause minor discomfort or sensitivity, especially if you have excessive tartar buildup, it is generally a painless procedure.

Step 3: Polishing

Once the scaling is completed, the teeth are polished with a gritty toothpaste-like substance to eliminate any remaining plaque or stains. This polishing enhances the teeth's appearance, creating a smoother surface that is less prone to plaque accumulation.

Step 4: Flouride Treatment

Following the teeth polishing, the next step is fluoride treatment. Fluoride is a mineral that helps to strengthen tooth enamel and prevent tooth decay. Fluoride is usually applied as a gel, foam, or varnish and left on the teeth for a short period. It is typically flavored and often comes in pleasant tastes to make the experience more enjoyable.

Step 5: Oral Care Recommendations

The final stage of a full dental cleaning may involve oral hygiene education. The dental professional will provide personalized advice on brushing techniques, flossing, nutrition, and dental care products to promote optimal oral hygiene. They may demonstrate the correct way to brush and floss, discussing areas that require extra attention. This education is crucial in preventing future dental issues and maintaining a healthy smile.

What Are The Benefits?

Here are the 7 most important benefits you can expect through regular maintenance, cleaning and check-ups:

1. Removal of plaque and tartar. It is nearly impossible to fully remove all plaque and tartar buildup at home. If you want your mouth to be as clean and healthy as possible, you'll need to see a dental hygienist. Dental hygienists can reach the areas of your mouth that you cannot. Additionally, they have the tools needed to identify trouble areas and recommend steps to prevent decay and gum disease.

2. Prevention of cavities: Dental cleanings not only remove the substances that contribute to tooth decay but also identify areas prone to cavities. Through fluoride treatments, sealants, and other preventive measures, your dentist can help protect your teeth from decay.

3. Detection of oral problems: Dental cleanings provide an opportunity for dentists to closely examine your mouth, teeth, and gums. They can identify early signs of potential problems such as oral cancer, gum disease, or even tooth loss. Early detection allows for more effective and less invasive treatment options.

4. Fresh breath: Bad breath can be quite embarrassing. Dental cleanings help eliminate the bacteria, plaque, and tartar responsible for causing foul smells. After a professional cleaning, you'll be left with fresher breath and improved confidence.

5. Overall health improvement: Studies have shown a strong link between oral health and overall well-being. Regular dental cleanings contribute to better heart health, lower risk of stroke, and reduced incidence of diabetes. By maintaining good oral hygiene, you may also reduce the risk of respiratory infections and even birth complications.

6. Professional guidance and advice: During dental cleanings, dentists and dental hygienists provide personalized advice on how to improve your oral health habits. From proper brushing and flossing techniques to guidance on choosing the right dental products, their expertise helps you optimize your dental routine at home.

7. Cost-effective in the long run: Preventive dental care, including regular cleanings, helps identify and address issues in their early stages. By catching problems before they worsen, you'll likely save money on extensive treatments down the line. Regular cleanings are an investment in your oral health that can help you avoid costly procedures like tooth extractions or root canals.


As with most aspects of your health, prevention, maintenance and early detection are key. With regular dental care check-ups and cleanings, you'll be able to prevent unnecessary issues and detect oral health issues before they become a problem. Most importantly, if you haven't been to the dentist in while, and are perhaps feeling worried about neglecting your teeth, don't worry. You can always count on our discretion and respect. If you have any questions about our check-up and cleaning treatments, feel free to give us a call at 416-462-1211. Thanks for reading!

Photo of Dr. Iliana Paparisto, DDS, DMD
This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Iliana Paparisto, DDS, DMD on November 23, 2023