How Long Does a Dental Exam and Cleaning Take?

How Long Does a Dental Exam and Cleaning Take?

Apr 01, 2024

Going to the dentist for a checkup and cleaning is essential to keep up a good oral health. But you may wonder precisely how much time you need to budget for a routine dental appointment. Exams and Cleanings in San Diego, CA, typically take 30 minutes to one hour, depending on your specific needs. Here’s an overview of what’s involved and how long each part of the process generally takes.

What is involved in a standard exam?

A regular dental exam will include a visual inspection of your teeth, gums, tongue, palate, and other tissues in your mouth. The dentist will look for the signs of decay, infection, oral cancer, bite issues, and other problems. They’ll likely use a small mirror and probe to look at every surface of each tooth and below the gumlines. This thorough inspection lays the foundation for good oral health.

How long does the initial inspection last?

The actual exam portion takes about 10-15 minutes on average. Of course, the time can vary based on your unique mouth health and structure. For example, it may take longer if you have extensive dental work, a complex bite, or other factors. But you can expect the inspection to be quick in most typical checkups.

What time does a regular teeth cleaning take?

After the verbal and visual exam, your hygienist will move on to the teeth-cleaning phase. For a basic cleaning on an adult, plan for this part to take 15-30 minutes of the appointment time. However, deeper cleanings called scaling and root planing may take 30-60 minutes or even longer if you have major tartar buildup or gum disease.

Are X-rays part of the exam time?

X-rays are often needed periodically to check below the surfaces of the teeth. A whole mouth series of dental X-rays takes 10-15 minutes. The X-ray exposure only takes seconds, but positioning the film and sensor plates in your mouth takes additional time. Bite-wing X-rays focused only on the back teeth are quicker, taking just a few minutes.

How long for a more comprehensive exam?

Some dental visits may be more extensive wellness exams than a standard cleaning and checkup. For a new patient exam, which includes a complete medical history review or a periodic exam with additional testing like an oral cancer screening, you should plan on booking 45-60 minutes or more. This allows time for a thorough assessment of your mouth health and risks.

What factors can lengthen the appointment?

A few key things can add time to your routine dental exam and cleaning:

  • Deep cleanings for gum disease or heavy tartar buildup
  • Extensive dental treatment history and complex conditions
  • Multiple X-rays or full mouth imaging
  • Additional diagnostic testing like biopsy or cancer screening
  • Treatment discussions and planning future work
  • Patient questions and consultation with the dentist

The dental team wants to provide excellent oral health care and preventive education. So don’t feel rushed – addressing any concerns and getting the time and attention you need is always better.

Booking 60 minutes is ideal for most standard checkups. This ensures you can get a thorough exam, cleaning, and X-rays without feeling pressed. Call your dentist near me at the Center for Oral Health and find out how long your next appointment should be. Investing the time in your teeth today prevents much lengthier dental treatments down the road. An ounce of prevention is certainly worth it!