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How much is a scale and clean?

A scale and clean will cost around $200 without extras or be free in most basic extras policies.

Thinking about finally locking in that dentist visit? One of the most common dental procedures is a scale and clean. It’s recommended you should get one every six months and with some extras policies, you could pay zero out-of-pocket costs.

Here’s why you may need one and what a scale and clean will cost you.

What is a dental scale and clean?

Everyone looks and feels better when they smile. One of the best ways to get a sparkling smile is to have a dental scale and clean.

A scale and clean removes plaque, calculus and some stains from all the nooks and crannies in your mouth that your toothbrush or dental floss may miss. Plaque is a build-up that you may feel or even see on your teeth. It is made of bacteria that can irritate your gums and cause tooth decay. Calculus (also called tartar) is hard and doesn’t generally come out with brushing or flossing so it needs to be removed by a dentist. Your teeth can also be stained by things like cigarettes, red wine, tea and coffee. While whitening toothpaste can help remove this, it can’t give you a smile that sparkles quite like a scale and clean. An added benefit of a regular scale and clean is that it can help minimise and even prevent bad breath and bleeding gums.

The whole procedure normally takes about 30 minutes in a dentist chair and can be booked as part of a check-up.

How does it work?

A dental scale and clean can help you keep gum disease, tooth decay and other oral health problems at bay. It involves the dentist removing the plaque and calculus that has built up on your teeth with an electric instrument called a scaler.

The scaler moves along your teeth and gums with fast vibrations that loosen the plaque and calculus without damaging your teeth. It removes the plaque, calculus and stains not just on the part of the tooth that you can see, but also just under your gum line. This can pick up any bacteria that may potentially start to damage the root of your teeth.

A scale and clean can also protect your teeth and gums, especially if you already have gum disease that has advanced below your gum line. After the scaler has removed the build-up the dentist will then use a rotating toothbrush and paste to polish your teeth.

How often you should have a scale and clean really depends on how frequently you brush your teeth and how quickly they accumulate plaque, calculus and stains. As a rule of thumb, most people need a scale and clean once every three to six months, but it’s a good idea to ask your dentist how often they think you need to have one.

Your dentist will generally include a few other examinations to make sure there are no other issues lingering with your teeth such as filings or some rogue wisdom teeth. This may include the exam, scale and clean, fluoride and X-rays.

What does a scale and clean cost?

How much a scale and clean costs depends on your dentist and whether you have extras cover. Most extras policies include a scale and clean as part of general dental services and a basic policy can cost as little as $12 per month.

You can find extras cover and then look at the general or routine dental limit to see how much you’re covered for. Some providers even offer no-gap check-ups, meaning you can go twice a year for your check-up and clean without paying any extra. Here are some finder partners that offer a no gap check up with scale and clean:

Basic extras cover:

Provider Policy Limit Cost Per Month Apply
Bronze Extras (100% back on one check-up per year) $350 $11.67 Go to Site
Black 50 saver (includes no gap check-ups) $400 $13.05 Go to Site
Classic (no gap for the first visit every year) $700 $55.03 Go to Site

If you don’t have extras cover, the cost of your scale and clean will depend on what your dentist chooses to charge you, though you're probably looking in the ballpark of $200 for a first appointment.

Find an extras policy that covers routine dental

Explore your options from over 30 Australian health funds. For dental only, just compare extras cover then simply filter for general dental. You can apply online in just a few clicks.

Picture: Unsplash

Alex Holderness

As health insurance publisher, Alex Holderness is trying to make a confusing topic easy to understand. She moved to Sydney from the UK six years ago and her words have been published in various health and tech publications. When she's not obsessing over sentences, you'll find her triathlon training.

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