Regular teeth cleanings help you maintain good oral health. Without frequent cleanings you’re more likely to develop plaque, a soft sticky substance that accumulates on teeth composed largely of bacteria and bacterial derivatives. Over time, plaque combines with minerals in the mouth to form hard deposits called calculus (tartar), which forms mainly beneath and along the gum line.
Calculus harbors bacteria that create toxins, which in turn cause gingivitis, a mild form of gum disease characterized by swollen gums. Left untreated, gingivitis can evolve into periodontitis, a more serious form of gum disease where the infection causes pockets (gaps) between the teeth and gums. Periodontitis can ultimately result in bone and tooth loss.
We employ a variety of treatments to prevent and control gum disease, the most common of which are described below. Your hygienist will recommend a cleaning plan that’s right for you, based on your oral and general health conditions.
Prophylaxis, also referred to as “prophy” or a "healthy" cleaning, is a routine dental cleaning designed for prevention. Its main purpose is to keep gum disease and tooth decay from developing. It primarily involves cleaning your teeth above the gum line - removing plaque, calculus, and stains - as well as polishing them. We typically schedule these cleanings every 4-6 months, depending on your oral health.
In some cases where the teeth have not been cleaned for an extended period, tartar builds up to the point where it prohibits a dental exam. A Full Mouth Debridement (FMD) is a preliminary cleaning that removes the obstructing tartar, thus allowing for a proper examination of the teeth.
Scaling and Root Planing (deep cleaning) is a periodontal procedure involving the removal of plaque and calculus (tartar) stuck above and below the gumline.
The procedure is necessary after a patient’s gums, bones, and surrounding tissues become damaged due to periodontal disease (periodontitis). Localized antibiotics (antimicrobials) may also need to be used during this procedure to help fight off bacterial infections.
No matter your periodontal condition, our hygienists will work with you to achieve optimal oral health. The above mentioned services are options to help get you there. Visit our page on periodontal care for more information about how we assess, treat, and help prevent periodontal disease.
Routine Cleaning (Prophylaxis) vs. Periodontal Maintenance
Scaling and Root Planing
Gingival Probing can help determine the health of your gums.