Professional teeth cleanings by a Registered Dental Hygienist are to remove plaque, tarter and stains that have accumulated on the teeth. Even with routine brushing and flossing of your teeth and gums, tarter can develop. The professional cleaning of teeth is a crucial part of good oral hygiene and is needed periodically to maintain the health of your teeth and gums. Most dentists recommend having your teeth professionally cleaned every 6 months. In between routine cleanings, good oral hygiene at home is vital to prevent tarter build-up and gum disease. Regular cleanings generally take about an hour.
Prophylaxis, Or Regular Cleaning
A regular cleaning is recommended for patients who do not have bone loss, periodontal disease, or infection around the teeth. There should be no bleeding, mobility of the teeth, receded areas or gaps where the spaces around the roots of the teeth are exposed. In other words, the mouth should be healthy with no bone or gum problems. A regular cleaning, or prophylaxis, removes soft plaque, tartar, and stains from the teeth above the gumline and only slightly below. A regular cleaning is usually done 2 times a year, depending on how quickly stain, plaque, and tartar accumulate. It is considered a preventive procedure by your insurance carrier, since regular cleanings will help prevent periodontal disease.
Scaling & Root Planing (Deep Cleaning)
Scaling and Root Planing, also known as a dental deep cleaning, is very different from a regular cleaning. A regular cleaning focuses on the surfaces of the teeth and between teeth above the gum line. During a regular cleaning, the teeth are also polished.
A dental deep cleaning, or scaling and root planing, is needed in order to remove bacteria, calculus (tartar), and debris that has collected under the gum line.
The presence of calculus under the gumline creates a safe haven for bacteria to collect, and cannot be removed by brushing, flossing or with a regular cleaning. The presence of this bacteria causes an immune response from the body. This immune response results in inflammation, to fight the bacterial infection. If left untreated, the infection and inflammation will continue and progress further under the gum line, resulting in loose teeth and bone loss, and ultimately, the loss of one or more teeth. After a deep cleaning, a periodontal maintenance cleaning will be recommended.
Periodontal Maintenance Cleaning
If you have periodontal disease which has resulted in bone loss, gum “pockets” deeper than 4 millimeters, bleeding gums, exposed root surfaces, or if you have had periodontal surgery or root planning to treat periodontal surgery or root planning to treat periodontal disease, a regular cleaning is not appropriate. Periodontal Maintenance Scaling is needed to maintain gum and bone health. This procedure includes removal of plaque and tartar from above and below the gumline, all the way down the length of each tooth to where the root, gum and bone meet. Rough areas of the roots are smoothed if needed, pocket depths are carefully monitored, and inflamed pockets may be irrigated with antibacterial medicines if necessary. Periodontal Maintenance is considered a basic service by your insurance carrier, and may be subject to a yearly deductible. PM is usually performed 3 to 4 times a year, depending on several factors: how quickly the plaque and tartar accumulate, how much bleeding or inflammation is present, how stable the present condition is, how well you are able to maintain your teeth at home on a daily basis, any health risk factors you may have.
We know that there is a relationship between chronic inflammation in the gums and overall health, especially heart disease and diabetes. Keeping the gums and the bone surrounding your teeth as healthy as possible is an important part of your regular dental visits or hygienist.