A dental cleaning is a professional cleaning you receive from a dentist or dental hygienist. Most dental cleanings take only between 25 and 30 minutes. Cleanings should be performed every six months to prevent excessive plaque buildup. Plaque left untreated can lead to unhealthy gums and tooth decay. A routine dental cleaning should include scaling, root planing and polishing. Scaling: This is the process of removing plaque and tartar from all tooth surfaces in a variety of methods, depending on the amount of plaque and tartar. Dental hygienists traditionally perform scaling by hand. However, new and advanced technology has lead to more modern methods such as electric scalers. This sophisticated tool allows dental cleanings to be performed more efficiently and in less time. To achieve best results, both electric and manual scaling methods are combined for dental cleanings.