At any given moment, there are thousands of naturally occurring bacteria in your mouth. They live on the surface of your teeth and gums, subsisting on food particles that are left behind after you eat. If left unchecked, these bacteria can result in cavities, gum disease, and a whole host of other problems. The good news is that simply brushing and flossing regularly can help keep bacterial buildup under control.
However, brushing and flossing alone are insufficient for ensuring optimal dental health. The third component is seeing your dentist at least twice annually for an examination and a cleaning. During your dental cleaning, a skilled hygienist will remove excess plaque and tartar, which house lots of dangerous bacteria and cannot always be managed through basic home care.
Depending on the amount of plaque and tartar buildup on your teeth, your dental care team may actually recommend one of several different types of cleaning.
Types of Dental Cleanings at Snow Family Dentistry
Prophylaxis Dental Cleaning
This may sound complicated, but the term prophylaxis simply means to prevent disease. Thus, this type of cleaning is used to clean healthy teeth and keep them from developing tooth decay or gum disease. These cleanings will involve the removal of plaque and tartar from all over the teeth, typically using both a dental scaler and a stream of water. The majority of our patients only require this level of cleaning, especially patients who are pretty diligent in their routine care and regular dental appointments. These cleanings involve little to no discomfort and may take anywhere from half an hour to an hour.
Scaling and Root Planing
This is a deeper type of cleaning performed on both the teeth and gum pockets when periodontal disease or gingivitis is detected. Depending on the nature and severity of your gum disease, your cleaning may be completed in a single session, or it may require multiple sessions. Scaling removes plaque and tartar that occurs below the gum lines, both eliminating bacteria and also treating inflammation. Planing involves smoothing the tooth roots, which eliminates gum pockets and ensures the gums remain attached to the teeth.
Most patients find these treatments to be perfectly comfortable, and we are happy to use oral anesthesia as needed to ensure there is no pain.
Periodontal maintenance is a type of dental cleaning that specifically targets gum disease. Excess plaque and tartar are removed, just as with scaling and planing. The main difference between a periodontal maintenance appointment and a scaling and planing appointment is that periodontal maintenance is performed on a regular basis. We recommend these cleanings for patients who have chronic or progressive periodontal disease. These cleanings can help keep symptoms in check, preventing the disease from getting worse.
Gross Debridement Cleaning
This is the most extensive, heavy-duty type of tooth cleaning. We recommend it only when necessary to remove the most severe plaque and tartar. The patients who require gross debridement cleanings are usually folks who struggle with at-home care, or who have not been to see the dentist in a good long while. Electric tools may be needed to remove tough layers of tartar and plaque, and after that, we will perform a regular dental cleaning. These appointments can be a little more time-intensive, but our team can ensure your comfort throughout.
No matter your level of dental need, it is crucial to make regular cleanings a priority. If you live in the Mesa, AZ area and want to learn more about your oral care options, we invite you to contact us. Make your appointment at Snow Family Dentistry at any time.