Due to some insurance changes we switched our children (ages 9 and 16) to a different dentist last year. The new dentist is a pediatric dentist who only sees children. Our prior dentist was a general family dentist who saw the whole family. Our prior dentist is a bit old-school: he does everything himself and seems very thorough, with routine cleanings typically taking 45 minutes to an hour for everything including X-rays if needed.
I was pretty surprised that the pediatric dental cleaning appointments seemed very short. I timed our last one. The hygienist spent a total of 9 minutes polishing and flossing my daughter's teeth, followed by less than 5 minutes with the dentist who did an inspection and applied fluoride.
Is it fair to judge the new dentist based on the duration of the cleaning? My initial reaction is that it can't possibly be as high quality or effective as our old dentist. But then again, our old dentist is certainly outside of the normal curve of typical dentists, maybe we are just accustomed to his lengthy and perhaps over-the-top thoroughness. Maybe he is more thorough than he needs to be and is pushing the cleaning past the point of diminishing returns.
If it is fair to judge based on the duration of the basic cleaning procedures, how long should it take? If 9 minutes is too short, what is appropriate...15? 30? Are there accepted standards of practice for what constitutes "good enough"?
I understand each situation is different and calls for different degrees of cleaning. But this is a pretty "normal" case where the child has good brushing/flossing habits and is going in for cleanings every 6 months.