teeth cleaning

What Happens During a Children’s Teeth Cleaning?

To safeguard your child’s oral health, you should take them in for teeth cleaning every six months. Professional cleaning goes further than what you can do at home on your own, and in particular, it can remove stubborn plaque. Wondering about the process? Here’s what happens at a child’s teeth cleaning and a look at how this process can differ for children and adults.

A Quick Check Up

In many cases, teeth cleaning is combined with a routine dental checkup, where the dentist examines your child’s mouth and takes x-rays. However, if the cleaning is not scheduled along with a checkup, the hygienist will still look over your child’s mouth, and if they see any issues, they will alert the dentist before going forward with the cleaning.


Plaque Removal

At this point, the hygienist starts to remove any plaque that has built up on the teeth. To ease any fears the child might have, the hygienist may tell the child that they are counting their teeth. This explanation helps to make the metal tools involved in the oral exam to feel a bit less intimidating. Alternatively, the hygienist may use laser plaque removal tools, which are relatively painless for people of all ages.


Brushing and Flossing

Typically, professional teeth cleaning involves brushing and flossing, and usually, the hygienist uses a gritty toothpaste for extra cleaning power. For young children, the dental hygienist may offer educational tips while they clean your child’s teeth. For instance, they might remind your child that they should brush for a certain amount of time every day, they may show your child flossing techniques, or they may chat with your child about the importance of oral health in particular. At the end of this process, the child rinses their mouth to remove any leftover toothpaste or debris.


Fluoride Treatment

Then, the dentist or the hygienist finishes the teeth cleaning by applying flouride. To make the process more hospitable to children, the hygienist may give them a choice of different flavors. Typically, the treatment is applied to a tray, and your child just needs to bite down for a certain amount of time.

If your child struggles with patience, you may want to let them play a game on their phone or watch a short video during this part of the treatment. After the fluoride treatment, your child should not eat or drink anything for about half an hour to an hour.  If they do, that can wash off the fluoride and make it ineffective. Remember this rule and plan ahead prior to the cleaning. In particular, make sure your child has a snack before cleaning so they can handle abstaining afterwards.

If your child’s teeth are particularly prone to decay, your dentist or hygienist may recommend sealants for your child. This is just a thin enamel coating that goes over the teeth and protects them from cavities, and if you are going to get sealants, that should almost always be done after a teeth cleaning.


To learn more or to schedule a teeth cleaning for your child, contact Dentistry for Children and Teens today. We have two convenient locations, and we offer a wide range of pediatric dental services.