There are three different types of dental cleanings. A lot of people associate getting their teeth cleaned with their 6-month checkup when the hygienist does their routine cleaning, however, there are other types that may be done as well, depending on health of the patient’s mouth.
Let’s first explain the stages of gum disease:
- Gingivitis is inflammation of the gums. It can be reversible by seeing your dentist and getting the proper cleaning done along with continuing to practice good oral hygiene. If you have Gingivitis your gums may be inflamed and may be painful to the touch or may bleed when brushing your teeth. Your gums might also be bright red or purple color and you may have bad breath.
- Periodontitis occurs if Gingivitis is allowed to progress and can be a much more serious problem. Symptoms will include those of Gingivitis but as time goes on, the gums will begin to recede or pull away from the teeth and form “pockets.” These pockets hold bacteria and become infected. As time goes on and the disease progresses, the gum tissue is destroyed and the bone of the jaw wears away which can lead to loose teeth and/or tooth loss. As the gum tissue recedes, the teeth can look longer since more tooth surface is visible.
Other symptoms that may occur with Periodontal disease are pain when chewing, ulceration of gums, swollen lymph nodes, and pain in the jaw and ear area. It can also radiate down into the neck.
Types of Dental Cleanings
Prophylaxis cleaning: This is basically your routine dental cleaning that is performed by the dental hygienist when you go in for your 6-month or yearly check-up and is necessary to keep your mouth in good health. The hygienist will remove any plaque build-up, calculus (hardened plaque), and any surface tooth staining. This type of cleaning also polishes the tooth surface.We recommend that you have this done twice a year.
Scaling and Root Planing: This is also known as a deep cleaning. This is usually performed on our patients who may be showing signs of Gingivitis or early Periodontitis such as swollen or bleeding gums and excess plaque and calculus. This type of dental cleaning will remove plaque off of teeth down to where the gum and bone meet. The roots will also be smoothed out which will allow the gums to reattach to the teeth. The gums are numbed for this procedure so the patient feels no discomfort. We will usually do the bottom teeth at one visit and the top teeth at another.
Gross Debridement: This type of dental cleaning is performed on patients who haven’t been to the dentist for a while and/or who have developed a lot of tartar on the teeth surfaces. Often times when this happens, the dentist is unable to complete a thorough examination of your mouth and teeth because of the accumulation of tartar and calculus on the teeth. The dentist might prescribe antibiotics prior to having this done. This is done to help prevent secondary infections that may be caused from the removal of plaque itself. Once the patient has had the Gross Debridement done, the dentist can then perform a complete and thorough exam on another date and proceed accordingly with any applicable treatment.
If Periodontal disease has progressed to the point of bone loss or other more serious complications, then your dentist may refer you to a specialist called a Periodontist.
Risk Factors for Gum Disease
The two most common risk factors for gum diseases such as Gingivitis and Periodontal disease are poor oral hygiene and low dental care utilization. Some people may not be able to afford regular and preventative care. Others may have an extreme phobia about going to the dentist.
Other risk factors include:
- Medications that cause chronic dry mouth – when the mouth is constantly dry, there’s not enough saliva present to naturally wash away bacteria which leads to plaque formation)
- Chronic health conditions such as diabetes
- Smoking – the Center for Disease Control estimates that smokers are three times more likely to develop gum disease than non-smokers
- Age – as people get older, they aren’t always capable of practicing good oral hygiene)
- Vitamin deficiencies
Practicing good oral hygiene and seeing your dentist regularly is important for the health of your mouth. The financial investment and time investment for routine visits is considerably less than what it costs to restore health.
Additionally, your mouth is the gateway to the rest of your body. Oral bacteria and infections can have a direct causal effect on your overall health and contribute to chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other types of inflammation.
Click HERE to learn more about how your oral health can affect our overall health.
Oral Hygiene Tips
Use a standard or a powered toothbrush. Both get the job done. Powered is preferred. Studies have shown that they are more effective at removing plaque than a manual one. If an electric toothbrush is not workable, a regular manual toothbrush also works well.
- Replace your toothbrush (or toothbrush head) at least every 3 months. Toothbrushes are not as effective at cleaning teeth after they wear out.
- Make sure you are using a soft-bristled brush. A medium or hard-bristled toothbrush can actually cause your gums to bleed.
- Use gentle circular motions and clean the fronts and backs of teeth.
- Make sure to brush your tongue to remove any bacteria that may be lurking there.
- Floss at least once a day. According to a study, dentists can look in someone’s mouth and tell whether or not they floss. Food particles can hide in between teeth and cause plaque build-up and cavities and flossing gets to these hard-to-reach places.
- Use a mouth rinse such as a mild mouthwash or saline and water. Hydrogen peroxide can also be used as a mouth rinse and is effective in killing bacteria.
- See your dentist for regular checkups and dental cleanings.
Your Southtown Dentist Can Help
Southtown Dental in downtown San Antonio offers all types of dental cleanings at his Southtown Dental Practice. If cost is preventing you from coming in for routine check-ups and cleanings, give us a call and we can see what we can do to help you. Our office offers a variety of financing options which can help make dental care affordable for you.
If anxiety or phobia is preventing you from getting regular dental cleanings, we can help with that too. It’s not uncommon for patients to feel this way and we are happy to walk you through every process and show you around our clinic so that you know exactly what to expect. Sometimes the fear of going to the dentist is worse than actually going to the dentist. Dr. Guillory and our entire staff take pride in treating our patients like family.