Types of Teeth Cleanings

Don’t you love the feeling you have right after your teeth have been cleaned and polished? Only a dentist or a hygienist can remove plaque buildup from those hard-to-reach places that regular brushing and flossing can’t get.

Plaque is the sticky film of bacteria that forms on teeth and multiplies deep below the gum line. Everyone has plaque. When you eat or drink something, some of the particles get stuck around your teeth. If you don’t remove them, the bacteria in your mouth will break down the particles into acids, and those acids will eat away at the enamel and cause decay.

Plaque not only causes cavities, it also caused periodontal disease, which is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults.
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Types of Cleanings and Gum Therapy

Types of Cleaning graphicMany people think of a teeth cleaning as just the polishing of the tooth enamel above the gum line. But bacteria can exist below the gum line, too. The type and frequency of procedure you need to address the bacteria in your  mouth depends on the clinical findings of the exam and x-rays.

Prophy: Patients who just need to have their teeth cleaned above the gum line to remove cavity-causing plaque and surface stains receive a prophylaxis cleaning — the kind that most insurance companies cover. This procedure removes plaque on the teeth and at the gum line, but does not address bacteria below the gum line.

Gingivitis Therapy: Patients diagnosed with gingivitis, a reversible form of periodontal disease, may need additional services to remove plaque build-up on the teeth and just below the gum line.

Scaling & Root Planing (SRP): Patients diagnosed with active periodontal disease require treatment above and below the gum line.These patients generally receive SRP, a non-surgical treatment that removes build-up, smooths out exposed root surfaces and may include the application of localized antibiotics. SRP often takes several visits to complete and ongoing periodontal maintenance is prescribed at regular intervals afterward.

Periodontal Maintenance

Periodontal disease is a systemic disease like diabetes that requires careful monitoring. Your dentist may prescribe a periodontal maintenance routine to provide cleanings above and below the gum line to help manage the disease and keep it from becoming worse.

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