In dentistry there are 4 different types of “dental cleanings”: prophylaxis, scaling and root planing , periodontal maintenance and full mouth debridement.
Dental Prophylaxis is a dental cleaning usually completed by your dental hygienist. Dental Cleanings should be performed every six months to prevent excessive plaque buildup. Plaque, left untreated can lead to unhealthy gums and tooth decay. A routine dental cleaning should include scaling, root planing and polishing. This is the most common type of dental cleaning and is for patients that have no or minimal bone loss or gum recession.
Full mouth debridement is for patients who perhaps have not had their teeth cleaned for many years. In these cases, there is so much tarter build up that we are not able to do a proper gum and bone exam around the teeth due to the tarter overlapping the space between the gum and tooth. After this tarter is removed, the gum and bone exam can be done to see what type of dental cleaning needs to be done.
Scaling and root planing (aka deep cleaning) is for patients who have experienced bone loss around their teeth and have not had their teeth cleaned for some time. This type of “cleaning “is required to remove tarter and plaque around the roots of the teeth. Due to the bone loss, the roots are now exposed and tarter and plaque can accumulate on them. Because of this it may or may not be sensitive for some patients when having their teeth cleaned. Its common that patients may need to be numb to be comfortable while having this done. Due to the extent of the procedure, this procedue is done half of the mouth at a time and will require more than 1 appointment. Each appointment takes about 90 minutes. The goal is to return the gums and related structures back to good health which will aid in simpler cleanings in the future and preserve the teeth long term.
Periodontal maintenance is for patients after scaling and root planing has been completed. As with scaling and root planing, the roots and the crowns of the teeth will be cleaned and tarter and plaque will be removed. The teeth will be polished. This type of cleaning is for maintenance to prevent further bone loss. This visit usually takes 50 - 60 minutes and is done every 3-4 months.