Professional dental cleanings are essential to maintaining excellent oral health. We recommend you have a professional cleaning at least once every six months. If you have not been diligent in having your teeth cleaned or if your teeth tend to build up tartar and plaque quickly, we recommend once every four months.
Professional dental cleanings are performed by registered dental hygienists or the dentist. Your cleaning includes a review of your x-rays, periodontal (gums) status and surrounding tissues/structures. The pocket depth of your gums is measured using a periodontal probe, to ensure the attachment level is healthy. Plaque and tartar are then removed with special dental instruments. Plaque is a film that forms on the teeth daily. It is a colony of bacteria, food debris, and saliva that irritates and inflames your gums causing gingivitis (inflammation of gums) which can lead to more severe periodontal disease.
When first formed, this film is soft and easily removed. If left untreated, within days, it becomes hardened plaque that can only be removed with special dental instruments. Finally, your teeth are polished to remove additional stain and plaque. Educating you on your periodontal status and ways to improve and maintain your oral health is the final step of the appointment.
When plaque and tartar aren’t removed, they push deeper into the tissue and bone, destroying them. Periodontal disease is characterized by red, swollen (puffy), and bleeding gums. When bone loss occurs, it can cause the teeth to be loose and cause spacing between teeth. Pus will form around the teeth and gums telling you that there is an infection present.
The influx of bacteria will cause persistent bad breath and can affect your self-esteem. In its early stages, it is painless but can become a discomforting. Periodontal disease has been linked to other diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and bacterial pneumonia and is an increased risk during pregnancy.
During a periodontal exam, a periodontal probe is used to measure your gums. Your dentist or hygienist will use these measurements, as well as noting the amount of bleeding, inflammation, and mobility to diagnose one of four categories: healthy, gingivitis, periodontitis (slight to moderate bone loss), and advanced periodontitis (moderate to severe bone loss).
If damage has been done to tissue and bone, a special cleaning called scaling, and root planing or deep cleaning will be recommended. Scaling is performed one quadrant at a time using local anesthesia. Special scalers are used remove all of the hardened tartar above and below the gums, as well as to smooth rough surfaces allowing the tissue to heal and the pockets to shrink.
Medication may be directly applied to the area, and a special mouth rinse may be prescribed to help in healing. An electric toothbrush and waterpik will also help to keep the area clean. Within four to six weeks, a thorough re-evaluation is done.
Once completed, routine regular maintenance cleanings are recommended four times a year. If there is no improvement, then periodontal surgery by a Periodontist (a dentist that specializes in the gums and supporting bone) may be recommended.