How much does dental cleaning cost?

Dental cleaning should be performed regularly. This procedure is rather inexpensive in comparison with other treatments. The price of dental cleaning can be around $100. There can, however, be additional procedures you might be expected to pay for.

So what is the overall price?

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Dental cleaning cost

Dental cleaning, or “prophylaxis” is differentiated in terms of price mainly by the age of the patient.

Prophylaxis typeAverage costCost range
For adults$100$70-$250
For children$80$50-$150

Change the options around on the calculator as you please. The estimated price will change as you do so.

Dental cleaning
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Dental cleaning for adults

A professional dental cleaning for adults costs $100 on average. The lowest prices across the US are about $70 while the highest reach $250.

It doesn’t matter how strict your oral hygiene routine is. Plaque will always build up. That is why you will need to make sure you visit your dentist one to two times a year to remove it.

Dr. Namrita Harchandani
Most insured patients are used to coming in for a six-month hygiene appointment and recall exam. Among those who pay out-of-pocket the attendance is slightly lower, but I would say a good deal of those patients still do come in regularly.

Doing this consistently can help prevent the need for more expensive medical procedures. Cosmetic treatments such as teeth whitening can also be avoided, since teeth cleaning helps to remove stains.

This procedure takes place above the gums. If you need cleaning below the gumline you might want to consider scaling and root planing. Such a deep clean can even be deemed necessary by your dentist in the presence of gum disease.

Dental cleaning for children

A professional cleaning for a child will not cost less than $50 or more than 150. This gives an average of $80.

Coronal plaque, calculus, and stains have to be removed from primary and transitional dentition as well. The procedure is similar, regardless of the age of the patient.

The biggest difference is the price; tooth cleaning for children is usually more affordable. Children’s cleaning might also include scaling and polishing within the insurance policy.

Some dental offices will deem children over the age of 14 adults, and charge them correspondingly.

Associated procedures

To determine how deep the cleaning should be you will need an X-ray. If you refuse to have it, most dental hygienists will agree to perform the procedure anyway, but it won’t be as comprehensive.

ProcedureAverage costCost range
Full-mouth debridement$200$150-$300
Dental exam$100$50-$200
Bitewing X-ray$35$25-$50
Periapical X-ray$35$25-$50
FMX$150$150-$300
Panoramic X-ray$130$100-$250
Fluoride varnish$50$35-$90
Gingival irrigation$40$10-$150

Regardless, some of the procedures listed below should be done regularly, just like a dental cleaning. It is a good idea to do those things at once, to avoid multiple visits to the dentist.

Full-mouth debridement

Full mouth debridement is often confused with regular cleaning. These procedures are, however, not the same thing. An FMD helps diagnose what is going on inside your mouth. A regular cleaning does not.

Symptoms of needing this procedure are highly inflamed or swollen gums and tough, hardened tartar on the surface of the teeth.

The procedure involves a hygienist using an electric scaler or an ultrasonic device along with manual instruments. After the surface of your teeth is exposed the dental professional will go on to fine-scaling the roots.

Any other procedures that need to be performed will be scheduled four to six weeks later. During that time you will have to follow the hygienists’ instructions vis a vis oral hygiene. This will also give your gums time to heal.

Oral evaluation

It is a good idea to schedule an evaluation before a cleaning per say, as it may turn out you need a debridement before you can have a cleaning. What’s more, a prophy cannot be legally performed if the dentist has never done an exam on the patient. You can consider an evaluation a part of the cost of a cleaning.

The dentist will assess the state of your mouth and explain what procedures you should schedule. You can also ask any questions you have, be it medical or financial, at this time.

If your dentist suspects periodontal disease, a periodontal probing may be performed.

The price range for this procedure is quite big for a number of reasons. It will be slightly cheaper (around $50) for returning patients, as they are expected to have good overall oral hygiene. For new patients, or patients who have not been to the dentist for a while, the average price is about $150.

Dental X-rays

The cost of dental X-rays might be something you have to think about before a cleaning.

Your dentist might want to check for decay happening from the inside or between your teeth.

This can indicate that a scaling and root planing is also necessary. He or she might also want to inspect the roots for abnormalities.

The types of X-rays you can expect to have before your cleaning:

  • a bitewing (the most common case),
  • a periapical radiograph,
  • an FMX, or
  • a panoramic radiograph.

Fluoride varnish

The goal of a fluoride varnish is to prevent decay, remineralize the teeth, and target hypersensitivity. This treatment can be performed by a dentist or a dental hygienist.

You don’t have to abstain from eating for twenty-four hours. You can eat straight away, but avoid hot, hard, sticky foods and alcohol for the rest of the day. Your dentist might also advise you not to brush that night but wait until the next morning.

There are different flavors of the paste, which is great when this procedure is done on children. Unlike fluoride carriers, a fluoride varnish at the office does not involve trays. This is a great solution for those with a strong gag reflex.

Gingival irrigation

This procedure is charged by quadrants. If you want your whole mouth done, multiply the quote above by four.

Simple brushing and flossing is not enough to keep your teeth clean. The purpose of gingival irrigation is to remove food debris. If you suffer from halitosis (bad breath) this procedure might be appropriate.

A stream of medicated water will hit the problem areas, allowing the gum pockets to get smaller. This removes a significant amount of hiding place for bacteria and improves the overall health of your mouth. You could compare this procedure to flossing with water.

Does insurance cover dental cleaning?

Depending on the policy you have, up to two cleanings per year are fully covered.

The good news is that an exam and X-rays can also be compensated for by your policy if you are a new patient. It may even be covered for returning patients, but it has to be considered necessary.

Here’s an example of how three popular plans work:

FeaturesDental Blue for Individuals: Core PlanCigna Dental 1000Humana: Dental Preventive Plus PPO
Fee per person per month$35.95
(if you’re under 65)
$30 or more$20.99
(after $35 enrollment fee)
Routine cleanings100% covered
(no deductible)
100% covered
(no deductible)
100% covered
(no deductible in-network), 70% covered out-of-network (after deductible)
Deductible$75$50$50
Waiting periodNo waiting period6 months*No waiting period
In-network dentistsQuotes provided for in-network dentistsQuotes provided for in-network dentistsUp to 28% of extra discount, but you can see any dentist
Yearly cap$1,000$1,000$1,000

*If you’ve not had dental insurance for the past 12 consecutive months. Waiting periods are waived at Cigna if you’ve had valid dental insurance for a year.

If you require more than two visits per year (e.g. you are a smoker) you will have to reach out to your insurance provider and see whether anything can be done. To be honest, they probably won’t be covered.

Luckily, there are other ways of visiting the dentist at a reasonable price if need be.

How to save money on dental cleaning?

Dental discount plans are a good idea. They are similar to a membership. You pay a regular fee, monthly or yearly, and get discounts on all dental procedures. There is no paperwork or yearly maximums.

You can look into going to a dental hygienist school or a dental school in your area for lower rates. There is no risk involved, however, some patient reviews quote the appointment taking up to four hours.

Another solution is a take-home dental cleaning kit. This will be cheaper, but the quality will obviously not be as certain. You might need a friend to help you out, as it is difficult to see clearly into your own mouth.

Something you can definitely do is undertake preventative measures (brushing after meals). This, however, is not a substitute. Professional dental cleaning is recommended at least once a year even for those who take excellent care of their mouths.

What are your thoughts?

The longer you put off getting your teeth cleaned the more likely that you will have extra procedures on your hands, such as filling in cavities or whitening.

Tell us about your experience. Do you visit the dentist twice a year, as recommended? Or do you think its a dental scam? Comment down below.

Disclaimer: The total cost of dental cleanings depends on numerous factors. These include the location, the experience of the person performing the procedures, and the materials used. The costs vary from state to state, from office to office, and even from dentist to dentist working in the same office. These prices show the average expenses involved without insurance or dental plans. We did our best to compile and take into account values from many sources, but the final decision as to which procedures must be performed and how much to charge for them is always ultimately made by the dentist. We give no guarantee that the prices you find here are the prices your dentist will quote.