Part of maintaining good oral health is a regular dental cleaning. But the cleaning that most people have every six months is not the only type of cleaning there is. Depending on how regularly you visit the dentist for a cleaning and how well you keep up with brushing and flossing at home, you may need to have one of three types of cleaning. The easiest of these cleanings is a prophylaxis cleaning which features little to no discomfort, but if you have shown little attention to your oral health and have developed symptoms of gum disease, you may need scaling and root planing treatment.
The three types of cleaning that you may have are a prophylaxis cleaning, a debridement cleaning, or a scaling and root planing. Which cleaning is necessary for you depends on how much plaque and tartar there is on your teeth and whether or not a lack of attention to your oral health has caused gum disease to begin to infect you.
A prophylaxis cleaning is a regular dental cleaning that should be done every six months to ensure you are maintaining your proper oral health. This type of cleaning is meant to be used on tooth structures that have not suffered the effects of bone loss, gum disease, or infection. Regardless of how well or how regularly you brush and floss, there are certain hidden or hard to reach places that you will be unable to remove debris from. The process of a prophylaxis cleaning includes scaling teeth and the gum line to remove plaque and tartar. It also involves the polishing of the teeth to remove any stains and to smooth the surface of the teeth. This particular type of cleaning is often accomplished solely by the dental hygienist using dental instruments that are designed to scrape plaque and tartar from the teeth.
A debridement cleaning is a procedure in which thick plaque or tartar are removed from the teeth. This type of cleaning is typically required if there is so much plaque and calculus that the dentist and staff are unable to properly check for decay, infection, or gum disease. Unlike with a prophylaxis cleaning, those that are sensitive to pain may need a numbing agent to avoid pain that may accompany the procedure. A debridement cleaning is done with either hand instruments or an ultrasound device. If an ultrasound device is used, water and high-frequency vibrations will separate the plaque and tartar from the affected teeth.
Scaling and Root Planing
Prophylaxis and debridement cleanings are typical cleanings that everyone needs to keep up their oral health, but if you have failed to visit the dentist for some time and failed to keep up healthy oral habits, you may need scaling and root planing, sometimes called a deep cleaning. This type of treatment is used on patients that show signs of gum disease. The process is used to prevent the advancement of the disease. When your gums are healthy, the gum tissue should fit tightly around the tooth with the measurement from the top of the gum line to where it attaches to the tooth being no more than one to three millimeters. However, if bacterial plaque and tartar have accumulated around and under the gums, gum disease may be taking root. Unlike the previously mentioned cleanings which are simply the cleaning of the teeth, scaling and root planing is a non-surgical procedure to prevent gum disease that may be developing. Because of this, it may take more than one appointment to complete and local anesthetic will often be used to minimize discomfort for the patient.
Visiting the dentist for regular cleanings is an important part of maintaining your oral health. The three types of cleanings that you may need to have are prophylaxis, debridement, or a scaling and root planing. If you have taken good care of your teeth, you will only need a prophylaxis or regular cleaning. If plaque and tartar has accumulated on your teeth to the point where the dentist and staff have trouble telling if there is decay, you will need a debridement. If a lack of attention to your oral care has resulted in plaque and tartar accumulating under the gums causing gum disease, you may be in need of scaling and root planing. To ensure your dental health, come see Dr. Acosta at Hancock Village Dental.