top of page

The Truth About How Long A Deep Teeth Cleaning Takes

Updated: Nov 13, 2023

This is your first dental cleaning in a few years but your dentist just informed you that you need a deep cleaning and not a normal cleaning. How long will this take because you've another appointment an hour right after this one so will you have to cancel it?

bleeding gums from deep teeth cleaning
bleeding gums from deep teeth cleaning

Table of Contents:

How long does a deep teeth cleaning take?

A deep teeth cleaning takes longer than a dental cleaning and it may take as long as 1.5-2 hours total for the entire procedure. The reason why the deep cleaning takes longer is because there is an additional step to perform and more tartar to clean when compared to a normal teeth cleaning.

  • Scaling and root planing. A regular teeth cleaning may include scaling the teeth but it does not include root planing the teeth, which is the additional step. The root planing is when your dentist cleans your teeth below the gum line, which you don't do in a regular dental cleaning. This extra step adds additional time to the overall length of the procedure.

  • More tartar build up. A deep dental cleaning is required when there is tartar build up below the gum line so there is additional tartar to clean. Since there is more build up to clean, consequently the appointment will require more time as well. There is typically none to very little plaque build up below the gum line in a normal teeth cleaning so there is less to clean.

What to expect for a deep teeth cleaning

A deep cleaning is very similar to a regular dental cleaning with the exception of three distinct differences.

  1. It includes root planing of the teeth, which cleans below the gum line.

  2. May require local anesthesia to numb the teeth so that cleaning below the gum line can be more comfortable.

  3. The procedure time takes twice as long as a regular teeth cleaning so the procedure may be split into two visits.

The deep teeth cleaning is usually split up into two appointments so each session would be about 45-60 minutes in length total. The reason for splitting the procedure up into two appointments is due to two reasons.

  1. For your own comfort because potentially keeping your mouth open for up to 2 hours can be quite tiring and potentially cause a sore mouth.

  2. If you are using dental insurance, a lot of the insurances will require you to do it in two separate appointments or else they will not cover the entire treatment. Therefore, the deep cleaning appointment is traditionally split up as two separate visits, the right side of the mouth and then the left side of the mouth.

All the steps for a deep cleaning

  1. Apply dental numbing gel and wait 1-2 minutes.

  2. Administer injection of Lidocaine via local infiltration.

  3. Scale and root plane half of the mouth with an ultrasonic scaler.

  4. Fine tune and remove residual tartar with hand scalers.

  5. Polish the teeth with prophy cup and prophy paste, a fluoridated toothpaste.

  6. Rinse out your mouth really well and you are all done, the procedure should've taken approximately 45-60 minutes total for the deep cleaning.

  7. Return on a different day for the other half of the mouth.

Can a deep cleaning be done all at once?

You can potentially do the entire procedure all at once and on the same day but you just need to be aware of two very important points.

  1. It may be uncomfortable for your entire mouth to be completely numb but as long as you are okay with it, we can do it for you all in one visit. Our LIC dentists do typically recommend that you split the procedure up into two visits for your own comfort.

  2. If you are using dental insurance, they may only cover half of the treatment because they have a specific policy of only allowing half of the mouth in one visit. What this means is that you would have a larger copay for doing it in one big combined visit as opposed to two separate smaller visits.

Advantages and Disadvantages of a deep teeth cleaning

There are numerous benefits but just one downside for receiving a deep teeth cleaning because it is a needed procedure to treat moderate-severe gum disease. If you only had very mild gum disease, a regular cleaning would've been sufficient.


  • It cleans above the gum line and also below the gum line.

  • Your dentist usually cleans extra carefully during the procedure to make sure every piece of plaque is accounted for.

  • Prevents further bone loss around your teeth from periodontitis.


  • You most likely have to be numb for the procedure, which means receiving the dreaded dental numbing shot.

  • Possibly takes two separate appointments.


These are all of the pros and cons for a deep teeth cleaning but our dentists in long island city would like to point out one important point. You can't get a deep cleaning if you don't need it because the procedure requires cleaning below the gum line.

If your periodontal disease isn't bad enough, you can't actually clean that far below the gums because the gums would be healthy and tight. Unhealthy gums are looser, which permits your dentist's scalers to reach further down to root plane your teeth.

The inverse is also equally true and what we mean by that is if you have moderate to severe periodontitis, you can't do just a normal cleaning. If your dentist or dental hygienist does a cleaning, it will automatically be a deep cleaning because their instruments would naturally be able to reach further down to clean all of the tartar and plaque.

That is simply how biology works... We hope you learned everything that you wanted to know in regards to this dental procedure but if you have any questions, you can always contact our office. You know where to go if you need a deep teeth cleaning in Long Island City.



David Chen 200 x 200.jpg

About the author: Dr David Chen, DDS

Hello, I'm Dr Chen and I'm an actively practicing dentist in Long Island City, NY. I graduated from Columbia University College of Dental Medicine in 2016 but prior to going to dental school I was already working in the dental field. It's been more than a decade since I first got to know dentistry and let me tell you, time flies by quickly. Since then I've developed a fondness for writing, which is how this all got started!

Association Memberships:

Medical Disclaimer:

This blog is purely meant for information purposes and should not be used as medical advice. Each situation in your mouth is unique and complex. It is not possible to give advice nor diagnose any oral conditions based on text nor virtual consultations. The best thing to do is to go in person to see your dentist for an examination and consultation so that you can receive the best care possible.

The purpose of all of this oral health information is to encourage you to see your dentist and to inform you of what you may expect during your visit. Due to the unfortunate nature of dentistry, there isn't really any true home remedies that will get rid of dental problems. Roughly 99.99% of them require in-person intervention by a healthcare professional.

Hint: That is the reason why you can't eliminate seeing dentists in your life!

bottom of page