Dental visits, checkups, and cleanings are all important for maintaining good oral health. If your mouth maintenance has been less than stellar, these visits can motivate you to get on the right track again and act as a reset.

Cleanings will ensure you are brushing and flossing effectively and will remove the calculus you may have missed.

Why Does it Take So Long to Clean my Teeth?

The average dental cleaning can range between half an hour to an hour. If you have a significant buildup of calculus, your appointment will exceed this time range. Your appointment will take longer if:

1. You have deep periodontal pockets. Periodontal pockets are caused by gingivitis. The inflammation that comes with this problem works its way down to the roots of your teeth, causing a periodontal pocket. This pocket surrounds your tooth like a moat surrounds a castle. Healthy teeth will have shallow pockets. The more unhealthy the gum, the deeper the pocket will become. Having a deep pocket allows more space for bacteria to live in. When bacteria gets into this space, it will aggressively attack your gums. Periodically, the hygienist will conduct a detailed measurement of your pockets to determine their depth. Cleaning these pockets will take longer as they are below the gum line. Periodontal pockets can heal to more shallow ones if all the plaque and calculus has been thoroughly removed.

2. You have buildup in periodontal pockets. If you naturally accumulate calculus quickly, the hygienist will spend more time removing it from your mouth. The length of time between your dental cleanings will also influence the amount of calculus in your periodontal pockets. If your last cleaning was six months ago, there shouldn’t be much buildup. If you haven’t been to the dentist in five years, the buildup will be significant if you don’t brush and floss often.

Having buildup below your gum line can be compared to having a sliver. When you have a sliver, your finger may turn red and sore. This reaction from your body means it knows something is there that shouldn’t be. Thus, your immune system releases messengers to fight it, but they won’t work due to the fact that the unwanted object is something physical. You’ll see those symptoms of redness and soreness for as long as that object is there. The same thing occurs when you have buildup. Your body knows it isn’t supposed to be there, but it can’t fight it. A sliver doesn’t affect your body anymore so once it’s lodged under your skin, though. Plaque and calculus can. If left untreated, they can deteriorate the bone mass which holds your teeth. What’s important to remember is that all this plaque and calculus needs to be removed in order to have healthy, happy gums.

Related: What a Good Visit to the Dentist Feels Like

How Can You Prevent Long Appointments?

Sometimes, if you naturally accumulate calculus quickly, you just can’t prevent a long appointment. However, you can try your best! All of these problems are caused by a buildup of plaque and calculus. The best way to stop this accumulation from happening is to brush and floss daily. If you get rid of most of the buildup, you’ll make the hygienist’s job much easier. All she’ll have to do is some touch-ups.

Plaque and calculus can cause irreversible damage if left untreated. Therefore, it’s crucial hygienists remove all of it during cleanings. If you have deep periodontal pockets that house a lot of buildup and bacteria, the hygienist will require more time to remove it and ensure the pocket is clean.