When we use the broad term “dental cleanings,” patients tend to assume that there is only one type. Actually, there are three main types of dental cleanings. The type that you need depends upon your current oral health and the recommendations of your dentist.

Normal Dental Cleaning

This is your standard dental cleaning – the one that most people think of when they hear the term. It involves the removal of plaque and tartar from the surfaces of the teeth for the prevention of periodontal disease, or gum disease.

Plaque is a sticky film that attaches itself to the teeth due to the presence of oral bacteria. Over time, accumulated plaque creates acids that eat away at tooth enamel and can damage gum tissue. Gums become chronically inflamed and infected, which can eventually cause teeth to loosen and fall out if the condition is not addressed.

So a normal dental cleaning involves a visit to your dentist where a dental hygienist will use a dental instrument to scrape away any buildup of plaque and tartar on your teeth that may have escaped your cleaning efforts at home.

Periodontal Maintenance

If you have already developed periodontal disease, you may require periodontal maintenance appointments. This will ensure that the disease is kept under control without any further development that could threaten your teeth.

If you are initially diagnosed with periodontal disease, your dental team will employ scaling and root planing for the removal of plaque and tartar under the gum line. Although this disrupts bacterial growth, it will eventually return into the pockets around your teeth.

Most patients require periodontal maintenance every three months. This time frame is not arbitrary. Bacteria will reestablish itself approximately three months after your last periodontal maintenance appointment. Keeping up with these appointments prevents damage to the supporting structures, keeping your teeth in place.

Full Mouth Debridement

For the dentist to examine and clean your teeth, they must be able to see and access the surfaces of the teeth. Some patients go for years between routine dental cleanings, and there is a severe accumulation of plaque and tartar that must be removed during a full mouth debridement appointment before a routine checkup and cleaning can even take place.

A full debridement will take longer to complete than a normal cleaning appointment. This is a preliminary treatment that allows other needed treatments to go forward, like dental fillings or root canal procedures, depending upon what is discovered during your dental exam.

The dentist or dental hygienist will use specialized tools, such as ultrasonic devices, to loosen plaque and tartar from the surfaces of your teeth and around your gums. Once this material has been removed, you can go forward.

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DISCLAIMER: The advice offered is intended to be informational only and generic in nature. It is in no way offering a definitive diagnosis or specific treatment recommendations for your particular situation. Any advice offered is no substitute for proper evaluation and care by a qualified dentist.