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Dental cleaning? Which do you need?

What kind of dental cleaning do you need?

Dental Cleanings, why you need them.
A photo showing a large amount of dental tartar.

The stages of dental cleaning.

I think it would be safe to say that most of you reading this, and myself included, agree on something. That something is: if something does not get cleaned for a long while, it will get dirtier by the day, and will be more difficult to clean when you do get around to it. This is definitely the case with cars, as you may have experienced in the past. Well, the same principle applies to your teeth. How dirty they are depends on what type of dental cleaning you need.

I’ll briefly get into them here:

Prophylaxis – This is the basic dental cleaning that most of you might get when going in to get your teeth cleaned and your regular checkup done. It’s pretty standard, and done on those with good upkeep on their oral hygiene. It usually consists of removing plaque and light buildup of dental tartar or calculus, from around the teeth at, or above the gum line. This is the cleaning that most of you would remember getting done. Even though it is the most basic, it’s one of the most important types, for if done in conjunction with good home care, it works as a great preventative measure for tooth decay and gum disease.

Debridement – This form of dental cleaning is usually used when the dentist or hygienist notes that there is a large amount of dental calculus build-up along your gum line and around your teeth. It’s usually done as one of the first steps in caring for a person who has gum disease. During a debridement the dentist or hygienist usually has to use some form of ultrasonic cleaning device which uses water and it’s rapid vibrations to break up and dislodge dental tartar from the teeth. If you haven’t gone to the dentist in a long time or you are more prone to getting dental tartar build-up, this is the cleaning that the dental office might do to break up the heavy build-up and get you into a healthier state, and after it’s done, the dentist will determine, at that time, whether the next stage of dental cleaning needs to be done.

Scaling and Root Planing – Usually after the debridement is done, the dentist is then able to measure whether or not scaling and root planing is needed. One of the tools he uses to determine this is a special probing device which measures the level of bone you have supporting your teeth. Some of you might recognize this as: “He’s poking my gums with that pick thing again.” I assure you it’s for good cause. The reason he does this is; when you leave plaque, dental tartar or calculus sitting on and around the gums, the gums become inflamed and infected. Your body then reacts to the bacteria by trying to remove the source of the infection (in this case the body thinks it’s the tooth or teeth that have the tartar build-up), it reacts by having the gums and bone move away from the infected area. This will create pockets around the teeth due to less bone and the gums separating from the teeth. If it is beyond 3mm (millimeters) in depth, bone loss has most likely occurred. When these pockets form, the bacteria can get even further down along the roots of the teeth and create dental tartar even further down. Scaling and root planing is a procedure whereby the dentist or hygienist has to go below the gum line to scrape out this hard build-up so the gums have a chance to heal and re-attach to the teeth. With this form of dental cleaning, the doctor will usually give you anesthesia, as the procedure itself could be painful without it. He may also want to apply local antibiotics to the areas that he is working on to give an added boost in the healing process. After the work is done you’ll be instructed on how to care for your teeth and gums and the dentist may want to bring you back for cleanings on a higher frequency, to ensure that your gum health is improving and build-up is kept to a minimum.

In closing…

It is always encouraged that you get regular cleanings and checkups. The above description of scaling and root planing is one of the reasons they are so encouraged. In order to maintain proper oral health, the teeth and gums need to stay as healthy as possible, and that involves the removal of this build-up that occurs over time.

Even if you don’t like coming to the dentist (and I know, the dental office is not always the number one choice of places to go in the world), it will help in keeping your overall health up to par, and beyond. Your mouth health plays a huge role in the overall health of the body. So, get your regular checkups and cleanings, and maintain your oral hygiene at home. Your body will thank you for it.

Stay healthy my friends.

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