Does A Dental Checkup Include A Cleaning?

Regular dental checkups and cleanings are essential for maintaining good oral health and preventing dental problems. While these terms are often used interchangeably, they refer to two distinct aspects of a comprehensive oral care routine. Understanding the difference between a dental checkup and a cleaning can help you make informed decisions about your oral health care.

What is a Dental Checkup?

A dental checkup is a comprehensive examination of your teeth, gums, and oral cavity performed by a dentist. During a checkup, your dentist will:

  • Visually inspect your teeth and gums for signs of decay, infection, or other abnormalities.

  • Examine your bite and jaw alignment to check for any issues that could affect your oral health or overall well-being.

  • Take X-rays to get a more detailed view of your teeth, roots, and jawbone.

  • Review your medical and dental history to assess any potential risk factors for dental problems.

What is a Dental Cleaning?

A dental cleaning, also known as prophylaxis, is a professional procedure that removes plaque, tartar, and bacteria from your teeth and gums. During a cleaning, your dental hygienist will:

  • Use specialized instruments to scale and polish your teeth, removing plaque and tartar buildup.

  • Floss between your teeth to remove any remaining plaque and bacteria.

  • Apply fluoride treatment to strengthen your tooth enamel and protect against decay.

Are Dental Checkups and Cleanings Typically Done Together?

While dental checkups and cleanings are distinct procedures, they are often scheduled together during a single visit. This allows your dentist to assess your overall oral health and address any concerns before proceeding with the cleaning. Combining both procedures ensures a thorough examination and cleaning, maximizing the benefits of your dental visit.

How Often Should You Get Dental Checkups and Cleanings?

The American Dental Association recommends scheduling dental checkups and cleanings every six months. However, your dentist may recommend more frequent visits based on your individual risk factors for dental problems.


Dental checkups and cleanings are crucial components of preventive dental care. Regular checkups allow early detection and treatment of dental problems, while cleanings help maintain good oral hygiene and prevent the buildup of plaque and tartar. By understanding the difference between these procedures and scheduling regular appointments, you can proactively safeguard your oral health and enjoy a healthy smile for years to come. Please find the dental office near you in these locations: Attleboro, Chelmsford, Hyde Park, Jamaica Plain, Lynn, Manchester, Methuen, Roslindale, Taunton.

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