Have you ever been told you need a “deep cleaning” at your dental visit? Do you feel you get a different or more expensive cleaning than others in your family? Our staff at Family Dentist Tree is here to help you understand why different types of cleanings are recommended for our many patients.
To begin, the type of cleaning recommended is most commonly based on the stages of periodontal disease. As bacteria eventually forms plaque in your mouth, it’s by products begin to break down the tissues that hold your teeth in place. This forms “pockets” that allow plaque to form beneath the gum tissue and near the bone. Your hygienist will typically measure these pockets at each visit, and each pocket can range from 1 to 15 millimeters. Your dentist will recommend which pocket measurements are healthy for your mouth; however, 1-3 millimeters is generally acceptable.
In its early stages (called gingivitis), it can cause red and inflamed gums and bleeding. This stage is reversible with regular flossing, brushing, and visits to your dentist. Your hygienist may recommend a “deep cleaning” (called scaling and root planing). Special tools are used to clear away the plaque that has developed below the gum line and on the root surface of your teeth. Your treatment may include all four quadrants of your mouth, or one or two teeth. Once the plaque is removed, the tissue begins to heal and prevents more plaque from forming below the gum line. Regular oral care is necessary to maintain healthy gums after scaling and root planing is completed. A follow up visit will be scheduled to check the progress of the healing within 4-6 weeks. Based on your progress, your dentist may recommend you have a periodontal maintenance cleaning every 3-4 months, where removing tartar under the gum line is continued on a regular basis.
Another type of cleaning that is typically referred to as a “deep cleaning” is called a debridement. Many patients have not seen a dentist in several years. Some of these patients have large tartar deposits on their teeth, making it difficult for your hygienist and dentist to measure your pocket depths and detect cavities. A debridement may be used before scaling and root planing to remove the large tartar deposits on your teeth. Once this is removed, your hygienist can more accurately determine your stage of gingivitis or periodontal disease.
Gingivitis that is left untreated can become periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is a more serious condition, causing damage to the bone that anchors your teeth. Over time, your teeth may become loose or need to be removed. At this stage, periodontal maintenance cleanings will be recommended every 3-4 months, or you may be referred to a periodontist for your care. Regular visits, as recommended, is the best way to help prevent further bone loss and to keep your smile for years to come!
For more information about types of cleanings and gum disease, visit these helpful sites: