Thursday, March 24, 2011

Are There Different Types of Teeth Cleaning? Yes … and the Type of Dental Cleaning Depends on You.

“Why can't I just get my teeth cleaned?” Many people have asked this question, not realizing the complexities of various types of dental cleanings. When you present yourself at the dental office, the dentist, or hygienist, must first determine the amount of calculus and/or tartar that is present in the mouth. Based on this information, along with possibly performing a periodontal probe on each tooth, the correct type of cleaning can be diagnosed and performed.

The reason there are different types of teeth cleaning is because there are different types of people and different reasons why people may need more invasive cleanings.

Obviously, we are all unique, and our dental needs will depend on many factors. Aside from genetics, environment, tooth and bone structure and other physical reasons, the main reason there are different types of teeth cleaning really depends on us, for the most part.

In the world of dentistry, there seem to be three types of patients:
1. Those who are fanatics about brushing, flossing, getting cleanings, check-ups and having good hygiene and a great smile. This type schedules appointments for the year, and often purchases additional products like fluoride rinses and whiteners to ensure their pearly whites look fabulous.
2. Those who have a healthy, but intermittent routine of brushing, flossing, getting their cleanings and visiting the dentist. This type of person may wait an extra couple of months between appointments or only see the dentist once a year, instead of two.
3. Those who do not take their oral hygiene seriously at all. In fact, they ignore the importance of their teeth and gums, and forget that their mouth and teeth are the gateway to their health and body. These folks rarely brush or floss and they may only see the dentist in case of an emergency.

So, when you visit the dentist and/or hygienist, the type of teeth cleaning they recommend may depend on what type of patient you are and how you care for your teeth between visits.

Here is a list of the types or cleanings:

Superficial Cleaning and Polish:
This is the most common type of cleaning. It is a routine cleaning, which is necessary to remove surface stains and other debris only on tooth surface above the gum line. This type of cleaning is performed with an ultrasonic instrument or prophy jet.

Bi-Annual Normal Routine Cleaning:
This is necessary for regular dental maintenance, usually at six month intervals (sometimes three depending on whether you build tarter and plaque along the gum line quicker than others). This type of cleaning is performed using an ultrasonic scaler and hand instruments on the entire tooth above the gum line and below to remove any tartar, plaque and mineral deposits. This type of cleaning is combined with superficial cleaning and polish of the tooth surface with a prophy jet.

Extensive "Debridement" Cleaning:
Again this type of cleaning is usually only necessary when an individual has not had his/her teeth cleaned in more than a year, or if there is heavy calculus/mineral deposits under the gum line fused to the tooth and roots. This type of cleaning is may require a longer appointment or two visits and is performed using an ultrasonic scaler and hand instruments followed by superficial cleaning and polish.

Deep Scaling and Root Planing:
This type of cleaning is more invasive and may be more painful. It is necessary in moderate or advanced stages of gum disease when bone loss and pocketing occur and when mineral deposits have fused deeper down the root surface. This procedure may require a form of anesthesia for patient comfort and is performed in quadrants and will require one-quarter of the mouth to be done at a time. Followed by a normal cleaning and evaluation appointment 2-4 weeks after treatment, these periodontal maintenance visits will need to take place in three month intervals until normal tissue health is achieved.

Advanced Periodontal (Gum) Disease Requires a Specialist, a periodontist: Routine Periodontal Cleaning:
This type of cleaning is necessary for regular dental maintenance, usually in three to six month intervals, following a diagnosis of periodontal disease, where bone loss and gum tissue damage are extensive due to lack of care or other reasons. A periodontist will perform scale root planing to avoid tooth loss. This treatment is also necessary if the patient accumulates plaque and calculus far in excess of normal levels which must be removed for adequate oral health.

So there you have it, the gamut of teeth cleaning possibilities. This is just a friendly reminder that taking care of your teeth in gums should a healthy part of your daily routine. In addition, regular dental visits and check-ups are also very important to avoid the more invasive, painful appointments.

Once your teeth have been cleaned and returned to a "normal" state of hygiene, only then can the dentist perform a simple prophy cleaning.