Getting a dental cleaning twice a year is an important part of oral hygiene. Regular preventive dental care, such as professional dental cleanings from a hygienist or dentist, can help you prevent bigger health issues such as gum disease or tooth decay.1

But how much should you plan to spend on a dental cleaning? Read on to learn about the costs of a routine dental cleaning and what to expect during the procedure.

What is the average cost of a dental cleaning without insurance?

Without insurance, the cost of a routine dental cleaning could range from $75 to $200, with an average cost of around $125. This amount may vary based on where you live or the experience and training of the dental professional.2

Deep cleaning costs vs. routine dental cleaning

The cost of the procedure may also depend on the level of dental cleaning you need. Deep cleanings not only polish the visible part of the teeth but smooth down the surface of the root to help treat gum disease. This treatment often takes several hours and may cost from $150 to $300 without insurance. However, if you request anesthetics, the price for a deep cleaning may be significantly higher.3

Dental cleaning cost with insurance

Many dental insurance plans will offer 100% coverage for the costs of routine preventive dental care. Since routine dental cleanings are considered preventive care, you may get at least 1 cleaning each year at no out-of-pocket cost. Keep in mind that some insurance plans may only cover the average cost of a cleaning within a certain network. If you visit a more expensive dentist or an office outside of your network, you may have to pay more for a dental cleaning.

Dental discount plans can reduce dental cleaning costs

Dental discount plans, sometimes called dental savings plans, are not insurance. They are another way to cut down on the cost of a teeth cleaning. In exchange for an annual fee (generally around $150), you can get dental services at participating dentists at a discounted rate. Dental discount plans require you to pay for the cost of every dental service. But unlike insurance, they usually don’t have annual maximum amounts for coverage, deductibles or waiting periods.4

What to expect during your dental cleaning

During a dental cleaning, your hygienist or dentist will use special tools to remove tartar. Tartar is a mixture of minerals and bacteria that can form on your teeth if dental plaque is not cleaned away. Since you can’t safely remove tartar from your teeth at home, you need to get tartar cleaned professionally. Dental care professionals remove tartar in 2 ways during cleanings:5

  • Scaling: Dentists or hygienists use special ultrasonic or manual tools to scrape away tartar on and in between teeth and gum pockets.
  • Polishing: After scaling, your dentist or hygienist will use an electric polishing tool and a special toothpaste to polish the teeth. This will help make the enamel smoother, which can help prevent plaque from sticking to your teeth.

Frequently asked questions about dental cleanings

How long should a teeth cleaning take?

The length of your appointment may depend on how much tartar you have on your teeth. During a typical dental cleaning, the scale and polish may take up to 30 minutes, with the entire appointment lasting up to 45 minutes in all.6

What is the difference between a routine dental cleaning and a deep dental cleaning?

You may need a deep cleaning if your dentist decides that you need extra care to treat or prevent gum disease. A deep cleaning usually lasts several hours and may require multiple visits to complete. During the cleaning, dentists scale the entire tooth to remove built-up tartar. They also perform a procedure called “root planing.” This process smooths the tooth surface below the gumline. Planing the root can remove tartar and help the gums re-attach to the tooth, which could help prevent tartar buildup in the future.7

Is dental cleaning painful?

If you brush and floss your teeth every day, routine dental cleanings may be a little uncomfortable, but usually not painful. But if you have a lot of tartar hardened below the gumline, it might hurt a little when your dentist or hygienist removes the buildup.8

Protect your teeth with regular dental cleanings

Many dentists recommend that you get a routine dental cleaning once or twice a year. Scaling and polishing is an important way to remove tartar buildup and prevent tooth decay.9 Since many dental plans cover 100% of the cost of preventive treatments, dental insurance could help you avoid paying out of pocket for routine cleanings.

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Sources

  1. “Your Top 9 Questions About Going to the Dentist—Answered!” American Dental Association, last accessed April 5, 2022, https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/dental-care-concerns/questions-about-going-to-the-dentist.
  2. Natalie Asmussen et al., “Find a Cheap Dentist Without Insurance: Affordable Care Near You,” Dentaly.org, last accessed April 5, 2022, https://www.dentaly.org/us/dental-financing/dentist-without-insurance/.
  3. Natalie Asmussen et al., “Deep Teeth Cleaning: What to Expect When You Go to the Dentist,” Dentaly.org, last accessed April 5, 2022, https://www.dentaly.org/us/oral-hygiene/deep-cleaning/.
  4. “Dental Savings Plan: Review of the Best Discount Plans in Your Area,” Dentaly.org, last accessed April 5, 2022, https://www.dentaly.org/us/dental-financing/dental-discount-plans/.
  5. Amanda Napitu et al., “Teeth Cleaning: Guide to Professional Tartar Removal at the Dentist,” Dentaly.org, last accessed April 5, 2022, https://www.dentaly.org/us/oral-hygiene/teeth-cleaning/.
  6. Napitu et al., “Teeth Cleaning: Guide to Professional Tartar Removal at the Dentist.”
  7. Napitu et al., “Teeth Cleaning: Guide to Professional Tartar Removal at the Dentist.”
  8. Napitu et al., “Teeth Cleaning: Guide to Professional Tartar Removal at the Dentist.”
  9. Napitu et al., “Teeth Cleaning: Guide to Professional Tartar Removal at the Dentist.”